North Carolina Wins Big With March Madness Sports Betting Launch

Today, North Carolina becomes the 30th state in the US to launch legal online sports betting.

At 12 p.m., North Carolina residents 21 and over can begin placing bets at eight online sportsbooks.

Caesars Sportsbook NC

FanDuel Sportsbook NC

DraftKings Sportsbook NC

BetMGM Sportsbook NC

Bet365 Sportsbook NC

ESPN Bet Sportsbook NC

Fanatics Sportsbook NC

Underdog Sportsbook NC

By launching today, North Carolina residents will not only be able to bet on March Madness. The launch comes one day before the hugely important ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament. NCSharp projects that launching North Carolina online sports betting in time for both tournaments could net the state $7 million in tax revenue in the first month.

How did we get here?

On June 14, 2023, Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347 into law. This bill legalized online sports betting for 12 operators, plus the state’s two tribal casino groups, and permitted limited retail sports betting and parimutuel horse race betting. The expanded gaming would fall under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Lottery Commission (NCLC).

The bill proposed an 18% tax rate, a $1 million licensing fee per operator, and it gave regulators one year from signage to get the online sports betting industry up and running.

Some changes were made to HB 347 through the state’s budget bill, resulting in operators needing to partner with a pro sports entity in order to enter the market. This also led to the total number of operators in the state decreasing by one. However, that could change in the future.

While regulators took a while to get the ball rolling, Sterl Carpenter, deputy director of sports betting for the NCLC, conducted clear and concise meetings that moved regulators through the many waypoints leading up to launch. More than one operator noted that the process of working with the NCLC felt fluid and painless. A testament to Carpenter’s experience and the NCLC’s work ethic.

March Madness launch a huge win for North Carolina

The earliest the state could have launched its online sports betting market was Jan. 8, 2024. When regulators announced that they would not be ready by that point and would also not be ready by the Super Bowl, the pressure to capitalize on the next largest betting event in the country increased.

NCSharp estimates that the state missed out on over $20 million in tax revenue by not launching on Jan. 8, in time for the College Football National Championship, the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl.

However, launching in time for the ACC Tournament and March Madness is a solid recovery for state coffers.

Considering what a couple of nearby states–Ohio and Virginia–which have similar demographic and population makeups to North Carolina, generated for March Madness last year, we can anticipate how North Carolina online sports betting will perform this year.

We project that launching before the ACC Men’s Tournament (March 12) and March Madness (March 19) will bring in over $7 million in tax revenue to the state for the month of March. Because of the hype around launch, the amount of NC sportsbook promo offers on the table attracting more betting action and the state’s prolific college basketball culture, that number could reach as high as $10 million.

Further, going live in March instead of waiting until the June 14 deadline (which, to be honest, was never going to happen) will see the state generate $17-$18 million in tax revenue for the months of April, May and the first half of June.

NC sports betting regulators delivered

Despite early criticism over the pace NC sports betting regulators set in preparing the online market (a fair amount coming from us), the state launched online sports betting nine months after passage of the law.

While NC regulators moved deliberately in the first few months, their timeframe is on a par with most other states going through the same process. Further, the partnerships formed with third-party groups to help implement the online sports betting industry in North Carolina will continue to pay dividends if the state pushes for more gaming expansion.

Regulators held public hearings that informed the creation of a comprehensive set of rules and regulations. They also launched a state gaming website as a centralized location for both businesses and consumers to follow the burgeoning market. While some questions still remain on the regulatory front (daily fantasy sports rules remain a point of contention across the country), the NCLC has laid a strong foundation for the future of legal gambling in North Carolina.

For now, Tar Heel sports bettors can enjoy the best online sports betting apps in the country during the best time of year for sports.


Image Credit: Ben McKeown / 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.