How To Bet On Sports In North Carolina

North Carolina sports betting was nonexistent two years ago. Today, there is betting on college and professional sports and horse racing at two tribal casinos, with another retail casino sportsbook on the way.  Learn how to bet on sports in North Carolina so you’re prepared when the time comes.

So, does this mean there could be momentum to finally bring mobile and online sports betting to the state? Absolutely. What’s more, there’s a bipartisan bill moving through the North Carolina General Assembly this summer that aims to do just that. Senate Bill 688 would authorize as few as 10 and as many as 12 operator licenses for interactive sports betting – including mobile and online – in the state, with the option for professional sports venues in North Carolina to offer retail sports betting, either at or within a half-mile of the main facility. 

The bill has made its first pass through the Senate and has been given a nod by Governor Roy Cooper. That puts SB 688 on track for passage in the House, with a shot at becoming law.  

North Carolina Sports Betting Updates

The latest action on SB 688 was on Aug. 19 when the state Senate voted 26-19 to approve an amended version of the bill and send it to its next stop, the state House of Representatives. Now the bill must go through the committee process once again before it has a chance at final passage. 

It won’t be an easy journey. SB 688 has been getting some pushback in the House, signaling that support in the lower chamber could be as slim (or slimmer) as it was in the Senate. Nerve-racking? Yes. But not a death knell. After all, it doesn’t matter how narrow the vote is as long as the ayes are in the majority. 

More good news is that the bill can be amended many times before it comes up for a final vote. Lawmakers who have concerns with a bill can often be swayed by a tweak here or there, without changing the overall intent of the bill — to bring North Carolina sports betting statewide. 

Sportsbooks Coming Soon To North Carolina

Online and mobile are expected to be the primary market in North Carolina under legislation being considered this legislative session. Sportsbooks that are selected to operate in the Tar Heel State would likely be established brands that can launch quickly, with their approval all but guaranteed. 

Which sportsbooks would be selected is up to state regulators at the North Carolina State Lottery Commission, but we expect to see a few brands that already have a toehold in and around Tar Heel sports country. 

Caesars Sportsbook

Caesars Sportsbook should be on any shortlist for North Carolina sports betting. The mega-book has been building relationships with bettors since spring 2021 as the only national brand tied to proprietary sportsbooks run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina. Caesars is also an official partner of the NFL, making it an easy fit for mobile and online betting on the Charlotte Panthers fans or retail betting at Bank of America Stadium. Bettor loyalty to the brand in Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC stands to make Caesars an all-around regional favorite.

DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKings is another top-tier sportsbook partner that could launch quickly in North Carolina. The Boston-based sportsbook is now legal and available in at least 11 states, most of which have NFL, NBA, or MLB teams that include DraftKings among their exclusive partners. It is also primed for a sportsbook spot at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro as an official betting partner of the PGA Tour.

FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel has a similar pedigree to DraftKings: a cadre of major league partners with homes in Charlotte and a place as an official betting partner of the PGA Tour. In March 2021, the company joined with the PGA, NASCAR, and the NHL as an official partner of a nationwide responsible sports betting campaign launched in 2019. All three of those organizations have homes in North Carolina, which bodes well for FanDuel as the race for licenses heats up. 

Bally Bet

Bally’s is another one to watch. The company signed a deal in February 2021 naming it an official betting partner of the NHL, which runs the Carolina Hurricanes franchise out of PNC Arena in Raleigh. Add Bally’s recent deal as an official NBA sportsbook partner and its chances in North Carolina look even better. 

Rounding out the list of potential North Carolina sportsbooks are NBA official operators MGM Resorts, The Stars Group, and TheScore and NFL second-tier partners FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet, and WynnBet. Both BetMGM and WynnBet are official betting partners with NASCAR, making them big players in North Carolina. 

NASCAR’s third official betting partner is Barstool Sports (Penn Interactive). Barstool is a relative newcomer to sports betting, but a potential player for in-race and live sports betting in North Carolina. 

Where Can You Bet On Sports In North Carolina?

Mobile apps or online sites are where most sports betting takes place these days. The North Carolina sports betting bill now pending in the House would allow both mobile and online sports betting, plus retail sports betting tethered to large sports venues – all under a single license. 

Betting in North Carolina is expected to favor books that are partnered with pro sports leagues and the PGA, which means ease of access to the best sportsbooks on the market for bettors at the stadium or arena, pro golf course, favorite restaurant or bar, or from the comfort of home. It should be a cinch to make an in-play, in-game, or most any kind of other standard wagers from the stands or the family den when North Carolina sports betting goes live. 

Mobile and online sports betting tethered to certain North Carolina tribal casinos are also in the cards. The state is expected to automatically give a sports betting license to certain tribal casinos who apply for one, with the two western casinos with Caesars’ retail books as likely applicants. That said, tribal licensees would not count toward the 12-license maximum, making the competition that much more interesting.

Popular Sports Bets in North Carolina

North Carolina is a haven for professional and collegiate sports fans alike, with no shortage of betting opportunities for everyone once sportsbooks launch. Sports betting would be allowed on all professional sports, college sports, esports, and amateur sports, or “any other event” – think NASCAR and the MMA – that state regulators may want to open to wagers.

Esports Betting

North Carolina is one of many states considering authorization of esports betting to attract gamers who may be willing to wager on an individual or team video game competition over, say, the Super Bowl or March Madness. It’s a betting genre that has skyrocketed in the past five to 10 years and continues to climb as esports competitions multiply to serve a growing clientele.

Big platforms like FanDuel and BetMGM already include esports betting in neighboring Virginia and other states where they operate, making them a safe bet for operations in North Carolina. 

Opening Bonuses

Sportsbooks in North Carolina would likely include attractive opening bonuses as they compete for new players and a share of the mobile market. Bonuses allow account holders to wager more without spending more as they navigate the sportsbook’s app or website. There are a few major types of opening bonuses: 

Deposit Match Bonuses

Deposit match bonuses give bettors a percentage of site credit based on their first deposit. DraftKings, for example, offers a 20% deposit match bonus of up to $1,000 site credit. The bonus is good on any initial deposit added to a player’s account. 

Risk-Free Bets

Risk-free bets are a popular offering of FanDuel for first-time bettors. Losses are refunded at up to $1,000 through site credit vouchers. 

Free Bets

These are small free bets of around $5 in value that give new bettors a chance to explore a mobile platform before adding to their wallets. DraftKings gives our readers a $50 free bet as a signing bonus for a $5 deposit. 

As with most deals, it’s a good idea to look at terms and conditions for opening bonuses before signing up with a sportsbook. Winnings may not be available for immediate withdrawal, as is the case with both the DraftKings deposit match bonus and FanDuel’s risk-free bet. 

FanDuel also refunds its risk-free bonus in five site credit vouchers at 20% of the initial wager, which is something to keep in mind before placing that first bet. 

Additionally, free bets are only available for a short time once an account is opened – usually only a week or so, although the time frame can vary. 

Legal Betting Vs. Illegal Betting In North Carolina

Mobile and online sports betting in North Carolina won’t launch until 2022 at the earliest. That leaves retail sports betting at the state’s western tribal casinos or, possibly, later this year at a temporary Catawba Two Kings Casino near Charlotte as the best sports betting option available in North Carolina for now. 

Of course, most sports bettors in North Carolina probably aren’t very excited about that option. It is easier to bet from home than it is to drive to a retail lounge, after all. But anyone considering using an illegal or offshore sportsbook before legal books launch should reconsider. 

First off, those sites are illegal. That means that any personal information given to these sites could potentially be traced back to the bettor, causing trouble down the road. 

Another risk with illegal betting is identity theft. Illegal sportsbooks usually operate offshore, offering no legal protection to bettors here in the states. Personal information including the account holder’s name, address, and even banking information can be stolen and used on the dark web. 

Betting is also subpar on illegal sportsbook sites. Not only are these sites impossible to track for official league data and profitability, but there’s no guarantee that a bettor will receive their refunds or winnings. 

How Can You Tell That Online Sportsbooks In North Carolina Are Fair? 

Regulated sports betting will ensure that every bet placed in North Carolina is handled through secure platforms that protect personal information and information on betting lines and odds.

Sportsbooks regulated by the North Carolina State Lottery Commission under SB 688 would be fair because: 

  • They would have internal controls that ensure integrity of wagering data, registered player and customer data, and all confidential information, including data provided by a sports governing body
  • They must be legally and financially sound, with a proven record of success with sports betting in other jurisdictions 
  • They would only be allowed to accept wagers from players who have registered through a sportsbook account. 

By having standards in place, North Carolina will be able to offer its sports bettors a fun, secure betting experience that can’t be found through illegal or offshore betting sites. The fact that North Carolina sportsbook operators will likely be some of the industry’s biggest names is extra assurance that registered users will be treated both fairly and appropriately. 

Sports Betting In North Carolina FAQs

What kinds of sports bets are legal in North Carolina?

Only sports bets placed at Harrah’s two tribal casinos in western North Carolina are legal under current law. Pari-mutuel and fixed-odds horse racing is also legal at the casinos only, but not elsewhere in the state. Legal sports betting will enhance betting opportunities throughout the state. 

Can I bet on college sports in North Carolina?

Not yet. However, betting on college sports would be legal under legislation now being considered by the North Carolina General Assembly. Betting on both in-state and out-of-state teams would be allowed. Exceptions would be betting on injuries, penalties, or the outcome of disciplinary proceedings against an athlete or participant. Betting on the outcome of replay reviews would also be prohibited. 

Can I bet on college sports in North Carolina?

Not yet. But it’s very likely that future regulated operators in North Carolina will include esports betting lines and wagering opportunities. The growth of varsity esports almost guarantees a viable market in a tech university-rich state like this one. 

What is the tax rate for online sports betting in North Carolina?

North Carolina would set a tax rate of 8% on the adjusted gross revenue of each interactive sports betting operator under SB 688. The tax would be due monthly to the North Carolina State Lottery Commission. 

Who can get a license to run an online sportsbook in North Carolina?

Mobile and online sportsbook operators would be vetted and chosen by the North Carolina State Lottery Commission as part of the application process. Companies vying for one of the 10 to 12 operator licenses that would be available under SB 688 would have to submit a business plan, measures to ensure age and identify verification, a written security program, and whatever else the commission may need. Qualified applicants would be issued a license within 60 days of receipt of their completed application, with any denial put into writing.

Is DraftKings or FanDuel offering sports betting in North Carolina?

No, but both companies are likely to pursue sports wagering licenses in North Carolina should the opportunity arise. 

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.