North Carolina lags behind some of its peers — including border neighbors — when it comes to legalizing online gambling and casinos.
Online gaming isn’t legal in the Tar Heel State, but that doesn’t mean North Carolinians aren’t scouring for options to get their fix. That includes offshore and unregulated sites and avenues. Before anyone opts for this path, however, it’s worth understanding the associated pitfalls.
Why Should NC Residents Wait For Legal Online Casinos?
The primary benefit North Carolinians stand to gain from waiting for NC online casinos is peace of mind. After all, legal online casinos are … legal. For some, that may actually decrease the appeal — you know, the whole forbidden fruit thing. However, for the majority of North Carolina residents, legality is a significant plus, especially for those getting their feet wet.
Make no mistake, the benefits of peace of mind are not exclusive to casual gamblers and newcomers. The risks associated with offshore gambling do not discriminate based on experience. Veteran gamblers have plenty of reason to sit tight instead of venturing offshore as well.
Those risks start with gamblers’ money.
In the worst case, an offshore outfit will shut down and run off with your bankroll. While it may not be an everyday occurrence, it happens frequently enough that it should deter prospective offshore patrons.
Even short of the doomsday scenario, offshore gamblers may have to deal with headaches and jump through hoops in order to claim their winnings. And don’t be surprised if the hoops grow higher and tougher to navigate in relation to the requested payout.
And this isn’t a case in which gamblers can reach out to customer service to untie occasional knots that arise throughout the course of client-business relations. An offshore site is going to do what it wants when it wants without regard for its customers. Offshore gamblers have to accept that there is no safety net present in the need for issues that need resolution.
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Legal vs. Offshore Gambling In NC: What’s the Difference?
On the surface, the differences between a legal and offshore gambling site may not be readily apparent. And for some, those differences may never reveal themselves.
However, many others experience the differences firsthand, and it’s often the hard way.
Legal gambling outfits are registered in the states in which they operate, meaning there’s government oversight and customer protection measures in place. Customer protection is not limited to gamblers getting their payouts in a timely manner. States with legal online gambling ensure there are measures to protect gamblers from themselves.
An offshore outfit? They’re not concerned with responsible gambling. They’re not even necessarily concerned with responsible client relations. Especially when they’re not subject to stateside law enforcement.
There’s no recourse for customers to resolve issues offshore. Good luck receiving customer service at an unregulated outfit. And, naturally, enlisting the help of local authorities is not going to get customers very far.
“Hello. I need to get my money back from the offshore sportsbook/casino where I’ve been gambling. Can you help me?”
Good luck with that!
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What Are the Downsides of Unregulated & Offshore Alternatives?
The primary downsides of venturing offshore for gambling alternatives stem from the fact that they’re not regulated within US borders. And thus, client protections are sub-par, if not non-existent altogether.
We’ve touched on the risk of gamblers struggling — if they’re lucky — to retrieve their winnings. Again, some lose their entire bankroll. Gambling is a source of entertainment for most, but even if casual gamblers can’t withdraw their prize money without an issue, what’s the point?
Secondly, but certainly not insignificant, are the legal risks and ramifications present in the offshore gambling equation.
Sure, prosecuting patrons of unregulated gambling alternatives may not have been at the forefront of US law enforcement up to this point. However, with more states legalizing online gambling on home soil, that will soon change.
In the past, perhaps there was an incentive to make an example here and there to deter the next wave of offshore gamblers. But today and into the future, with gambling dollars flowing stateside, gamblers should expect stricter enforcement and punishments for those seen as preventing Uncle Sam from earning his cut.
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What Is the Case For Legal Online Casinos in NC?
The truth of the matter is people who want to gamble are going to find ways to gamble. North Carolinians have a few retail casinos available to them, but the option to gamble from one’s own couch does not exist yet.
The case for legal online casinos involves the added convenience for those who are going to gamble anyway. But it also comes down to the state bringing in revenue that is currently going elsewhere. The North Carolina Education Lottery offers an example of the financial benefits proponents of legal online casinos cite. Billions of dollars have gone to North Carolina schools as a result of lottery revenue.
By keeping gambling dollars within the state’s borders, funds will be available for other in-state needs that require addressing now and those that will arise in the future.
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What Is the Case Against Legal Online Casinos In NC?
The case against legal online casinos in North Carolina stems largely from the risks — real and perceived — that stakeholders would like to avoid.
It’s important to remember that North Carolina is a state that maintains conservative social values. The legalization of activities deemed “vice”-like will naturally be met with opposition. It would be disingenuous to suggest people and families have not been hurt due to financial troubles associated with gambling, or even worse, gambling addiction. While millions enjoy gambling responsibly, it’s these worst-case scenarios that opponents of legalized online casinos stand behind.
Other states, some with southern roots and others with strong conservative influence, have crossed the threshold to legalize online gambling. However, it’s proven difficult for North Carolina to clear the final hurdles facing it.
When Is NC Expected to Legalize Online Casino Apps?
The opportunity to legalize online gambling in North Carolina died in the summer of 2022, to the chagrin of many stakeholders. That doesn’t mean online gambling won’t reach North Carolina at some point. It will just be delayed another year.
The legalization of online gambling is a complicated process that looks different from state to state. North Carolina generated momentum in 2021 and 2022 but was not able to get over the finish line for a 2023 launch.
The next opportunity for the state to legalize online gambling is 2023, which if successful, would likely put its launch in 2024.
It’s not the response many want to hear, but the primary thing North Carolinians should expect is to continue exhibiting patience.
What to Expect When NC Online Gambling Is Legalized?
Let’s think positively, omit the “if” in the equation, and assume that it’s an inevitability that North Carolina is among the next states to legalize online gambling.
Each state implements its own unique sets of rules and regulations, so North Carolina will iron out specifics that may or may not bear similarity to other states’ processes up to this point. However, there are general developments in-state residents can expect to see when the launch date eventually nears.
There will be a set number of licenses allowed to operate within the state. Some states provide more licenses than others, but prospective North Carolina gamblers can expect to have choices at their disposal. There’s nothing wrong with keeping multiple online gambling apps in your betting rotation. In fact, it’s encouraged for a number of reasons, including taking advantage of welcome bonuses.
Speaking of welcome bonuses, North Carolinians can pass the time between legalization and launch by scoping out pre-registration offers that will likely emerge in the weeks leading up to the first day of legal online gambling.
Patience remains the theme for North Carolinians awaiting legal online gambling to arrive within the state’s borders. And while there is certainly a growing eagerness to see North Carolina clear the final hurdles that have tripped it up in previous races to the finish line, it’s worth reiterating that venturing offshore for your betting needs is not a recommended course of action.
AP Photo/Gerry Broome