March Madness Betting In North Carolina Expected To Be Top 5 In Nation

March Madness is just around the corner, and sports betting industry experts believe North Carolina bettors are more than ready.

Analysts predict that North Carolina will rank among the top five states in the country in terms of total bet spending (handle) this month. Specifically, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG) predicts the Tar Heel State will rank fourth in the nation.

North Carolina and Duke, two college basketball bluebloods, will make the men’s tournament this year. Wake Forest stands as one of bracketolgy expert Joe Lunardi’s First Four Out, but there’s still a chance they could sneak in.

And March Madness comes at a perfect time, too, as North Carolina online sports betting launched just days ago. During the first 48 hours of sports wagering, bettors logged a whopping 5.36 million geolocation checks.

Here’s a closer look at why the experts believe North Carolina bettors will create a massive handle for this month.

North Carolina projects to be fourth in country for March Madness betting

EKG’s study estimates that 8% of the country’s volume for March Madness betting will come directly from North Carolina customers. That 8% comes out to a projected $221 million in handle. That prediction ranks ahead of all other states outside of New York, New Jersey and Illinois.

States listing total betting handle during March, per EKG analysts
Source: Eilers & Krejcik Gaming

One reason is just how highly anticipated North Carolina’s launch was. Officials took a calculated approach, and it’s no coincidence that online sports betting hit the ground running ahead of March Madness.

On March 11, customers could choose from eight online sportsbooks:

Each operator offers NC sportsbook promos, too, that players can cash in on during the Big Dance. Whether it’s bet insurance, bonus bets or odds boosts, there is no shortage of opportunities for hungry bettors.

It’s also worth noting that Charlotte will host a number of NCAA Tournament games, both on the men’s and women’s sides. For fans without a dog in the fight but still attending to enjoy basketball, wagering on those games makes things even more interesting. For some, it’s part of the experience.

North Carolina allows wagering on in-state college programs

Tar Heal State residents can bet on their favorite hometown programs during March Madness, like North Carolina, Duke and potentially Wake Forest.

Not all states allow this. For instance, neighboring states Virginia and South Carolina cannot bet on any of their in-state teams during the tournament (or any time, for that matter). Virginia Senate Bill 124 had the potential to change that for Virginia customers, but it was tabled.

So right now, if Virginia or South Carolina residents want to bet on their teams, one viable option is heading to North Carolina to wager.

Right now, there are five teams from those states projected to make the men’s NCAA Tournament this month:

  • South Carolina
  • Clemson
  • Virginia
  • James Madison
  • Norfolk State

On the women’s side, undefeated South Carolina will be the top overall seed and the favorite to win the title.

In other words, North Carolina will certainly take in a solid chunk of change from South Carolina and Virginia bettors this March.

Basketball is a fan favorite in North Carolina

There’s such a rich history of the sport in North Carolina, both with the men’s and women’s programs.

On the men’s side, the state of North Carolina produced 13 NCAA champions, most recently in 2017 when the Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga. North Carolina has six championships, but Duke is right behind with five. N.C. State boasts two titles as well. There have been countless NBA players (Michael Jordan for example) and legendary coaches (Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Jim Valvano) to lead these programs.

The state of North Carolina also produced a women’s champion in 1994 with the Tar Heels. This season, N.C. State, Duke and North Carolina are all in line to represent the state in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The latest bracketology update has N.C. State as a 3-seed and playing host to Chattanooga in Raleigh.

March Madness handle could double that of Super Bowl 58

The NCAA Tournament is an absolute frenzy when it comes to betting — 67 games in less than three weeks, to be exact.

EKG’s study believes that roughly $1.5 billion was placed on Super Bowl LVII, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs take down the San Francisco 49ers in a thrilling overtime contest. Football is king when it comes to betting, and that game had plenty of star power on paper, coupled with a back-and-forth ending.

Still, EKG’s study believes the 2024 NCAA Tournament will blow this year’s Super Bowl out of the water. The study projects that bettors will wager a whopping $2.68 billion during March Madness, with North Carolina residents contributing a significant amount of that figure.


Image Credit: Gerry Broome / AP Images

About the Author

Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley's byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working as an editor and reporter for the Daily Iowan’s sports department.