North Carolina Retail Sportsbooks

Sports betting is still quite limited in North Carolina. Big changes could have come to the state during the summer of 2022, but key legislation that would have greatly expanded the gambling and betting industries was narrowly defeated.

At the moment, North Carolina residents only have three options if they want to put money down on their favorite sporting events. Two retail sportsbooks are called “The Book” and are located at either of the state’s Harrah’s locations: Cherokee Casino Resort and Cherokee Valley River Casino. A third location recently opened as part of the Catawba Two Kings Casino.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot of variety in the North Carolina sports betting industry. Ultimately, this lack of variety has resulted in a less than stellar growth rate for sports betting in North Carolina.

A bill that would have legalized online betting and expanded sports betting licensure in the state, SB 688, fizzled in June of 2022. It would have allowed for up to 12 different online betting platforms and several brand new retail sports betting locations including at professional sports venues. It was not to be however, and prospective bettors will need to wait a bit longer in the Tar Heel State.

At the moment, sports wagering options are pretty narrow. Let’s take a closer look at retail sports betting in North Carolina as it stands today and explore how it may evolve in the future.

Are There Sportsbooks In North Carolina?

At the moment, there are limited brands for North Carolina sports bettors: The Book at the two Harrah’s casinos in the state, and the newly opened Catawba Two Kings Casino. These smaller sportsbook operators aren’t big names like DraftKings or FanDuel, but they do offer sports betting enthusiasts the opportunity to put money down on their favorite sporting events.

The Book at Harrah’s

The Book’s two locations, at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Cherokee Valley River Casino respectively, are functionally identical to one another. Odds are provided by Caesars Entertainment, and each retail sportsbook is dominated by a comfortable lounge furnished with chairs, widescreen TVs, and even serving tables where you can get snacks or beverages to enjoy while putting money down and watching sporting events unfold. The sportsbook at Harrah’s Cherokee also has three VIP fan caves that you can reserve, and watch a game in style.

Each Book location has a single wagering counter where you can place your bets one at a time with other bettors. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s sportsbooks don’t currently support in-game or live betting, but this may eventually change as the industry evolves.

The Book does allow you to place all other major wager types, including moneyline, spread bets, totals bets, and more. Odds are posted for all major American sports franchises and leagues.

Catawba Two Kings Casino

This tribal casino in Kings Mountain, North Carolina is the state’s third and newest retail sports betting location. Opened during the summer of 2022, this casino is currently housed in a temporary facility with over 1,000 slots and electronic table games. A larger, more expansive permanent facility is still being built.

While the current facility lacks in the usual amenities one might expect in a more mature market, Catawba Two Kings does offer 30 sports betting kiosks that are available 24/7. It will be exciting to see what this sportsbook looks like once the permanent facility is completed.

Legal Sports Betting In North Carolina

Legal sports betting in North Carolina took a long time to kick off, and even then it only barely sprouted an industry worth speaking of. Friday, July 16, 2020, saw Governor Roy Cooper sign SB 154 into law. This made North Carolina the seventh state to pass sports betting legislation in that year.

This bill allowed the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to offer retail sports betting at both of their casinos, located in the Appalachian Mountains. The bill also included a provision for the Catawba Nation to start offering retail sports betting if they managed to eventually construct a retail casino. The Catawba Nation opened Catawba Two Kings Casino, which included a sportsbook, in the summer of 2022 with a temporary building, with construction of a permanent facility ongoing.

This limited form of sports wagering has been a success for the state, although some government officials have clearly seen the need for expansions and pushed for online sports betting to match surrounding states.

Most recently, SB 688, a bill that could have brought mobile sports betting to North Carolina plus offer retail sports betting expansions at professional sports venues, was voted down in the summer of 2022. While there was varied support for such a bill, it ultimately lost 51-50, meaning North Carolina bettors will have to wait a bit longer to be able to place bets online.

At this time, the only available places to bet on sports in the state are the three retail locations at tribal casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, Harrah’s Cherokee River Valley, and Catawba Two Kings Casino.

Under the provisions of SB 688, the gaming industry within the state would have expanded dramatically. Between 10 and 12 licenses would have been issued, and done wonders for the state’s sports betting options while generating plenty of revenue. Under SB 688, specifics and requirements would have included:

  • A $500,000 license fee that can be renewed by operators at a rate of $100,000 for the first five years
  • A $25,000 licensing fee for service providers
  • An 8% tax rate for monthly adjusted gross revenue from any interactive sports wagering operator

All that is for naught for now, however, with the bill being defeated in summer 2022. It remains to be seen whether it will be revived in the future, transformed into something slightly different, or replaced by another form of legislation altogether.

For now, it remains to be seen whether or not North Carolina will take the plunge and actually legalize an expansion to its sports betting market. Bettors certainly hope so. Although the three retail sportsbooks at the above-mentioned casinos are decent spots, more flexibility is always a good thing and not all North Carolina residents are conveniently located near the casinos to place a bet.

By opening new retail sports betting locations or legalizing an online option, North Carolina’s residents would be able to participate in this enjoyable activity much more regularly and easily.

North Carolina Sportsbooks: Highlights and Features

The first two retail sportsbook locations to open in North Carolina are both under the Harrah’s brand, and are operated by Caesars. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River are the best, and nicest places to place a sports bet within the state. 

Because of the association with Caesars, there is a wide variety of bets and odds available at both locations. Both offer plenty of seating, large HD televisions, and betting ticket windows as well as self-service kiosks.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino

With nearly 2,000 hotel rooms, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino has all the amenities you might look for in a resort. Food options are numerous on-site including restaurants by Gordon Ramsay and Guy Fieri and a Ruth’s Chris Steak House. There are also options like a food court, Starbucks, and several other quick service options. Myst Bar is a traditional casino bar, but sits right near the casino floor and features live music every Friday and Saturday.

The sportsbook itself at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino features a massive 90-foot screen showing games all day long, and plenty of seating. Three private fan caves are available via reservation and feature multiple private TVs including one 85” HD screen, and easy access to betting windows and kiosks.

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino is significantly smaller than its counterpart. It features just one sixth the number of rooms as Harrah’s Cherokee Casino with the entertainment and food options similarly pared down as well. While there are no restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs, there are nice quick options like Panda Express, Starbuck’s, Nathan’s Famous, and Earl of Sandwich.

The sportsbook here features a 32-foot television screen, betting kiosks, and bartop gaming. There are no private viewing rooms here with the focus of the sportsbook being more on placing bets.

Catawba Two Kings Casino

The third, and newest, retail sportsbook in North Carolina is located at Catawba Two Kings Casino. This is a different and less developed experience than at the two Harrah’s locations in the state. For one, Catawba Two Kings Casino is currently operating out of a temporary facility. A permanent building with a much larger footprint is being built, but for now, this casino is not as developed as it could be.

The sportsbook here is much more of a betting “area” as compared to a real book you might see at a much larger casino or resort with televisions mounted on the wall showing games as well as listing betting odds. There are 30 self-service kiosks where bets can be placed. The advantage with the machines is that they are available at all times 24/7, however, there is no direct persons to help with bets or talk to directly to create betting slips.

Retail Sports Betting In North Carolina FAQs

Can you gamble on sports in North Carolina?

Yes, but only at the state’s three brick-and-mortar casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Cherokee Valley River Casino, and Catawba Two Kings Casino. Both Harrah’s locations are run by Caesar’s and are dubbed “The Book.”

At this time, you cannot place bets online or through other sportsbook locations.

Where can you place a sports bet in North Carolina?

You can only place sports bets in North Carolina at one of the state’s three retail casinos. You must be on casino premises and at the retail sportsbooks to place a wager, or visit a state where betting is legal.

When did sports betting start in North Carolina?

Sports betting in North Carolina began in March 2021, which is when both of the Harrah’s casinos opened sportsbooks to accept March Madness bets. A third retail betting location opened in the summer of 2022.

Can I bet on horse racing at North Carolina’s sportsbooks?

Yes. Horse race wagers are currently legal in North Carolina so long as you place the bets within the retail sportsbook locations.

How old do I have to be to enter a North Carolina sportsbook?

You have to be 21 years of age or older, which is also the age you need to be to enter the retail casinos.

Is live betting or in-game betting offered at North Carolina's sportsbook locations?

Not at this time since the only sports betting locations in North Carolina are the three retail operations. These locations offer in-person booths or self-service kiosks to place bets, but do not have the technology in place needed to offer in-game betting. 

Do I have to pay tax on winnings from sports betting in North Carolina?

Yes, you are required to pay taxes when you win money gambling in North Carolina. You must also pay federal taxes on gambling winnings.

Is DraftKings offering sports betting in North Carolina?

No, not yet with the defeat of SB 688. However, DraftKings does currently offer daily fantasy sports to North Carolina residents.

About the Author

Amber Hoffman

Amber Hoffman is Managing Editor of NCSharp.com. A recovering attorney, she's spent almost a decade developing and managing websites and writing for a variety of industries. Amber married into a Red Sox family and has embraced the Sox ever since.