North Carolina may not have access to legal sports betting apps for another state congressional session. However, that doesn’t mean that unregulated sports betting apps are worth trusting. Licensed sportsbooks have consumer protections that unregulated books lack. These include basic data protections and prohibitions on knee-capping bettors.
Here’s why NC sports betting is delayed another year and how North Carolinians can access legal sports betting alternatives.
The Difference Between Legal and Illegal Sportsbooks
Licensed sportsbooks have gone through state audits that ensure the app’s technology works and that the company is reliably solvent. So, bettors who bet at a licensed US sportsbook know that if they win, then they’ll receive their winnings. Bettors will be able to make withdrawals, even if it involves identity verification or several business days to wait.
Unregulated sports betting platforms, on the other hand, do not answer to a governmental agency so there is no way to hold them accountable if they decide not to pay any winnings.
Licensed sportsbooks are also expected to be financially stable enough to be worth bettors’ time. If bettors place a futures bet months in advance, a licensed sportsbook will still have money to pay winnings out if that futures bet wins. Licensed sportsbooks are also required to keep bettor money separate from business money. That means a licensed sportsbook can’t use a bettor’s wagers to pay operational costs.
These controls keep poorly run sportsbooks from accepting millions of dollars in wagers and then failing to pay that money back out. The security of licensed sports betting app isn’t just about whether the app works or whether a bettor’s personal information is secure. It’s also about whether it can manage money well enough to stick around in the long run.
Why North Carolina Lacks Sports Betting Apps
North Carolina legislators were working on an online sports betting bill after the successful launch of NC retail sports betting. However, the House voted the online sports betting bill down in June 2022.
Conflicts over college sports betting killed the online sports betting bill. An amendment prohibited all college sports from being offered on an online sportsbook app. In a state with major college sports schools, like Duke and UNC, this was a divisive issue for sports betting proponents.
Prohibiting sports wagers on college sports eliminates the most popular markets after professional football and basketball. It also wipes March Madness from sportsbooks, taking the final month of sports betting’s peak season from the state. Since the tax revenue disappears with it, this was a serious financial blow.
However, concerns about sports betting impacting the integrity of college sports have merit, too. Individual players can manipulate player prop bets and to a lesser extent, point spreads. Even if players, coaches, and other insider officials are kept from participating, an outside party can place the bet and split the winnings for financially vulnerable players.
An accepted middle ground in some states is allowing college sports but prohibiting player props. This allows bettors access to college lines while reducing the chances of a match-fixing scandal.
The direction that the North Carolina state legislature takes when it revisits the online sports betting issue will be interesting. It’ll likely either allow all or most wagers on college sports betting, but it’ll also depend on the state legislature’s makeup after the midterms.
How North Carolinians Can Access Legal Sportsbooks
Until North Carolina resolves online sports betting, North Carolinians can either visit a retail sportsbook or travel to a state with legal sports betting apps. Both Harrah’s Casino locations in North Carolina have a Caesars Sportsbook on their properties. Catawba Two Kings Casino also has a sportsbook area on its property.
Some bettors may find it more convenient to cross state lines. Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north both offer legal online sports betting. Bettors who are willing to make the trip can find a spot with WiFi on the other side of North Carolina’s border to bet on major sporting events.
AP Photo/John Locher