Even with the legalization of online sports betting in North Carolina, data suggests that casual wagers between friends and family will remain popular.
A 2022 Pew National Survey found that 15% of adults who bet money on sports did so with friends and family in private betting pools, fantasy leagues or casual bets. Only 8% bet in person at a track or betting kiosk, and only 6% bet on a sports betting app. Worth noting is that 2022 was a long time ago in online sports betting years, so the percentage of adults betting through online apps has likely increased.
Despite the expected boom in North Carolina sports betting, the North Carolina Education Lottery, regulator of the new online industry, will have to grapple with the existing informal betting market in the state.
Survey respondents cast critical eye on sports betting’s impact
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned only five years ago, so the culture of betting built around friend and office groups playing fantasy sports and family members making informal sports wagers during the Super Bowl and March Madness remains strong.
Even with informal wagering’s prevalence in American betting culture, sportsbook apps are the most visible sports betting outlets for Americans. They advertise in local and national sports broadcasts and feature prominently at live sporting events, exposing North Carolinians to DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s sportsbook products and other apps competing in the sports betting market.
Most survey respondents believed this is a negative development for sports or society, though.
Only 16% of respondents said sports betting was good for sports, compared with 33% that thought it degraded the quality of sports. The gap is even larger when considering sports betting’s impact on society. Only 8% of respondents believed sports betting expansion was good for society. Thirty-four percent said it damaged society in some way, more than four times the number that believed sports betting expansion was a net positive for society at large.
Most respondents believed sports betting’s expansion was neither good nor bad, for society or sports. Fifty-seven percent believed sports betting expansion was neither good nor bad for society, and 49% believed so for sports.
North Carolina sportsbooks have ready stream of customers
The casual bettor is an important customer segment for potential North Carolina online sportsbooks to attract. These bettors may not be used to browsing spreads or reading odds. However, these bettors have shown an openness to putting money on sports through different informal wagering formats. They’re the type of sports fan who is receptive to the entertainment lure that online sportsbooks offer.
The rapid normalization of sports betting will drive signups to sportsbook apps, too. Professional games now have spreads and moneyline odds listed alongside scores at the bottom of the screen. North Carolinians who’ve traveled to sports betting states for games can’t have missed the sportsbook advertisements lining stadiums, either.
The greatest challenge that commercial sportsbooks will face in North Carolina is creating the same sense of community that casual betting with friends and family can generate. Sportsbook leaderboards can create a sense of competition but not necessarily community.
One of the long-term challenges for North Carolina sportsbooks will be continuing to inject the sense of community that casual betting and fantasy sports into sports betting.