Location Data Reveals Massive North Carolina Online Sports Betting Interest

Thousands of North Carolina residents are trying to bet on sports online despite it not being legal in the state.

GeoComply, a company that tracks location data for legal online sportsbooks, shared some staggering data during a recent committee hearing on the bill that would legalize sports betting in North Carolina.

Sportsbooks track your location

Location services are a huge part of the online sportsbook industry.

When you log on to the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, there are plenty of sportsbook options available. Anyone with a smartphone can download these apps and look around.

However, not every state has legalized online sports betting. Because of that, online sportsbooks use your location while you’re on the app.

There has to be some way to know whether the person using the app is in a legal state. Location services are how sportsbooks determine whether you’re in an area with a legal market, such as Tennessee, or in a state that hasn’t legalized betting yet, such as North Carolina.

GeoComply is the main company that provides these location services for sportsbooks in the U.S. Since the company is tracking data on these apps, it’s been able to see how many North Carolina residents have tried to bet on sports.

North Carolina losing sports betting business

GeoComply shared data during a committee hearing for North Carolina’s sports betting bill this week. The numbers show plenty of sports fans in the Tar Heel State are already trying to bet on the action.

North Carolinians made over 1.75 million attempts to bet on sports during the recent NFL regular season. Those attempts came from about 166,000 different accounts.

North Carolina residents are still trying to place their bets, even with football in the rearview mirror.

GeoComply pinged another 72,000 betting attempts between March 17 and March 19. These North Carolinians were trying to bet on March Madness games.

John Pappas, GeoComply’s senior vice president of government and public affairs, said many of the customers attempting to bet will take their business elsewhere.

“It’s not surprising that many of these of these folks are looking to access legal books in Tennessee and Virginia, so those states are benefitting,” Pappas said. “Worse so though is those players are turning to offshore illegal sites and placing their bets there. Tens of thousands of North Carolinians are betting on these sites, and these sites are actively marketing to consumers right here in the state of North Carolina.”

Offshore sportsbooks cause confusion

Offshore sportsbooks are unregulated and illegal in the U.S. market. Even in states that have legalized online sports betting.

These sites operate in states nationwide, but they don’t play by the rules. They’re not subject to any of the consumer protections that legal markets provide in different states.

Part of the confusion around North Carolinians trying to bet using legal apps is likely due to these sites.

A sports fan sees an ad for an online sportsbook that advertises itself as legal, so they assume that sports betting must be legal in their state. They head to the app store on their phone, download a sportsbook that’s legal in other states and attempt to place a bet using that app. That pings GeoComply’s location services, and the user’s attempt fails since they’re not in a legal state.

Situations like this can cause plenty of confusion for sports fans in North Carolina. Deceptive marketing from the unregulated side of the industry is creating problems. People are trying to place bets, but don’t fully understand the legality of it in their state.

This will continue to happen until North Carolina legalizes online sports betting.

Thankfully for sports fans in the state, there’s a new bill that’s making quick progress in the statehouse. If it becomes law over the coming months, then North Carolina will finally be able to capitalize on the industry by keeping its bets within a legal market. State bettors could also look forward to taking advantage of a wide selection of top NC sportsbook bonuses and sign-up offers as different operators compete for their custom.

About the Author

Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.