Place your bets! Sports betting is now legal in NC

By Theresa Opeka

Raleigh, NC – It is official. Sports betting is now legal in North Carolina. Anyone 21 or older holding an account with a licensed operator can use their phone or electronic device to place sports wagers starting at noon on March 11. The first wagers will be made on mobile devices, as no operator has been approved for in-person wagering at this time.

On Feb. 29, The North Carolina State Lottery Commission (NCSLC) granted seven companies the first sports betting licenses in the state including:

  • Betfair Interactive US, LLC (dba: FanDuel Sportsbook)
  • BETMGM, LLC.
  • Crown NC Gaming, LLC (dba: DraftKings)
  • FBG Enterprises Opco, LLC (dba: Fanatics Sportsbook)
  • Hillside (North Carolina), LLC (dba: bet365)
  • Penn Sports Interactive, LLC (dba: ESPN BET)
  • Underdog Sports Wagering LLC

Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise, an enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, was also approved.

Democrat Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347 into law last June to authorize sports betting in the Tar Heel state at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, where the Charlotte Hornets play.

The commission said they received nine applications for interactive sports wagering operator licenses and expects to approve additional licenses in the near future. 

Van Denton, communications director for the Lottery Commission, told Carolina Journal in an emailed statement that those seeking a license have to meet certain statutory requirements and need to submit detailed applications and disclosures, not only about its business but also about its key personnel who have control or influence over operations in the state. The NCSLC licensing staff then reviews each application, disclosure, and background check materials to determine if the applicant is suitable for licensure.

Denton said in July, the commission hired Sterl Carpenter as deputy executive director of gaming compliance and sports betting. Carpenter has more than 30 years of experience in the gaming industry, including more than two decades working for Foxwoods Resorts Casino in Connecticut and the last eight years for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, where he served as sports wagering operations manager and regulatory compliance manager. The state launched online sports betting last March, with Carpenter leading the way.

“In this role (in NC), Carpenter is responsible for developing, implementing, and managing a compliance framework for regulating sports betting activities,” Denton told CJ. “He had experience in all aspects of regulations and licensing as well as compliance and brought the best practices for sports wagering developed in Massachusetts here to North Carolina.”

In August, the commission hired Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), a gaming industry leader in testing and certification, to assist with sports betting regulation and the launch of sports wagering. 

GLI helps the commission with rulemaking, licensing procedures, the development of an audit program, and risk control. The company has assisted Massachusetts, Vermont, and Kentucky in starting their own sports betting programs in the past year.

People began registering and setting up accounts with the companies mentioned above on March 1. Companies are promising up to $1,000 in bonus bets when players sign on.

Denton said people can bet on a wide variety of events, including ACC basketball, Major League Baseball, and sports played around the world, such as soccer and cricket. A complete listing of what people can and cannot bet on can be found on the Events and Wagering web page at ncgaming.gov.

According to BetCarolina, 1 in 6 North Carolinians plan on betting once a week, based on a survey the website did of 1,000 residents. 

The same survey showed that 15% of North Carolina residents currently engage in sports betting, and 14% say they travel across state lines to place bets in Tennessee or Virginia.

The website also projects that over $6.4 billion is expected to be wagered by residents this year on sports betting.

Under the new law, the state will allow up to 12 online sports betting apps to operate within the state. Prospective interactive gambling operators must pay a $1 million application fee to apply for a state-issued wagering license, with an additional $1 million renewal fee after five years. The state will tax operators an 18% privilege tax for their activities.

Eight sports venues, including Charlotte’s Spectrum Center, can apply for in-person sports books. Other NC venues allowed under the law are PNC Arena, WakeMed Soccer Park, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Sedgefield Country Club, and Quail Hollow Country Club.

Multiple state government departments will receive revenue gathered from associated taxes and fees. Approximately $2 million will go to the NC Department of Health and Human Services to fund gambling addiction treatment, while the NC Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council will receive $1 million annually to issue grants. Another $1 million will go to NC Amateur Sports, a non-profit that sponsors amateur and youth sports initiatives.

Athletic departments of 10 state-run universities will also receive funding, each receiving $300,000 annually: Appalachian State, East Carolina, Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, UNC-Asheville, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Pembroke, UNC-Wilmington, Western Carolina, and Winston-Salem State.

The remaining proceeds will be divided among the ten universities, North Carolina’s general fund, and the newly created North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund. Under the administration of the state’s Commerce Department, the fund will provide grants to entities that “foster job creation and investment” surrounding major sporting events. HB347 names NASCAR races and major men’s and women’s golf competitions “major events.”

Those excited about the launch include the Carolina Hurricanes, who are having a launch party at Backyard Bistro.

But there are others that aren’t so excited. Public health officials like those from NC Problem Gambling Program, a division of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, told North Carolina Health News that they know they will receive an increase in helpline calls, but they are ready, adding that they have provided additional training for their clinicians.

Alison Drain, prevention coordinator for the NC Problem Gambling Program, told NC Health News that she likened the addictive similarities between gambling disorders and substance use disorders. 

Despite widespread support in the legislative and executive branches for H.B. 347, a bipartisan minority of General Assembly members opposed the bill last year. Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, doubted whether legalized sports gambling would bring increased profits into the state as projected by the bill’s proponents.

“$7.2 billion total betting in the fifth year. That’s not new money coming into the state, that’s money currently in the state being spent on kids, food, and rent. It’s just money being reallocated.” said Burgin.

Sen. Julie Mayfield, D-Buncombe, also expressed concerns about gambling’s addictiveness and adverse effects on mental health.

“This bill legalizes an activity that is recognized as an addiction on the same level as heroin, cocaine, and opioids,” said Mayfield.