March Madness Stokes Fires As Nearly 20 Million NC Sports Bettors Log On To Apps

North Carolina saw a 56% week-over-week increase in geolocation check-ins during the first weekend (Thursday-Sunday) of March Madness, Danny Dirienzo, senior director of risk services at GeoComply, tells NCSharp.

That translates into 19.5 million geolocation checks placed at NC sports betting apps last weekend.

Dirienzo says that GeoComply “anticipated a big market in North Carolina due to its population and rabid sports fans, but this start has been even bigger than we anticipated.”

Launching online sports betting in the lead-up to the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments looks like a big win for the NC Lottery Commission and state tax revenue.

NC sports betting riding March Madness wave

With the launch coinciding with a deluge of college basketball action, all signs pointed toward a fast start for NC online sports betting.

The first 48 hours saw over five million geolocation checks, and day one of March Madness saw a 46% week-over-week increase in sports betting activity, all data according to GeoComply.

That trend continued into the first weekend of March Madness, where nearly 20 million people logged on to at least one NC online sportsbook. What’s more, Dirienzo said that “743,000 new player accounts were registered during that same time, representing a 39% week-over-week increase in total betting accounts.”

These trends speak to both the place college basketball holds in the state’s collective culture, and the fact that NC sportsbook launch offers are still enticing new bettors to sign up.

With some online sportsbooks, like FanDuel Sportsbook NC, continuing launch offers through the end of May, North Carolina will likely see a steady stream of new users through the first two months of the MLB season.

NC has highest ratio of adults to sports bettors in the country

Another metric Dirienzo highlighted to illustrate the strength of North Carolina’s market is the ratio of adults to sports bettors in the state.

In the two weeks since its launch, Dirienzo said that “16% of North Carolina’s adult population has logged on to an online sportsbook.” That ratio of adults to sports bettors leads the nation and is 6% greater than Kansas, which has the second-highest ratio.

Dirienzio notes the caveat that “adult population” data comes from the US Census Bureau, which defines an adult as over 18 (most US sportsbooks require bettors to be over 21). As such, this ratio provides context for where North Carolina fits alongside other legal sports betting markets even though it can’t provide actual population numbers.

Week two of March Madness looms large for NC teams

North Carolina, Duke and Cinderella-hopeful NC State have all rolled into the Sweet 16. This means sports bars and restaurants throughout the state will pack people in this Thursday-Saturday for another wave of March Madness betting action.

The Sweet 16 schedule for North Carolina men’s teams looks like this:

  • Thursday 3/28; 9:39 p.m. on CBS: Alabama (4) vs. UNC (1)
  • Friday 3/29; 7:09 p.m. on CBS: NC State (11) vs. Marquette (2)
  • Friday 3/29; 9:30 p.m. on CBS: Duke (4) vs. Houston (1)


Image Credit: Matt Freed / AP Images

About the Author

Tyler Andrews

Tyler is the Managing Editor for, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Tar Heel State. He has also covered similar topics for PlayTexas, PlayGeorgia, PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is North Carolina’s pathway to gaming legalization.