Home » Despite Big Summer Sports Events, Retail Sports Betting Isn’t Close to Launching in North Carolina

Despite Big Summer Sports Events, Retail Sports Betting Isn’t Close to Launching in North Carolina

While the fans can pull out their phones and place legal online sports bets, there’s no partner ESPN BET brick-and-mortar location on or near the course. 

May 10, 2024 • 17:23 ET

• 4 min read

Massive crowds are filling Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., this week to watch some of the PGA Tour’s biggest stars in the Wells Fargo Championship. 

While the fans can pull out their phones and place legal online sports bets, there’s no partner ESPN BET brick-and-mortar location on or near the course. 

When NASACAR holds one of its biggest events during Memorial Day weekend later this month, bettors once again have only one option to wager on the Coca-Cola 600 or any of the other races that draw more than 150,000 fans. 

A state that legalized in-person sports betting as a companion with online wagering is missing out on huge summer sporting events. 

A North Carolina Lottery Commission spokesperson told Covers this week that none of the Tar Heel State’s eight licensed sportsbooks are close to launching.   

“At this time, no places of public accommodation are yet approved or operational,” the spokesperson said. “No operator-applicant has yet formally sought to submit materials to the Commission pursuant to Rule 24 NCAC 06A .0801 (Wagering Facility Location) to propose opening a specific location for a place of public accommodation.”

The only three brick-and-mortar shops in North Carolina are currently located on tribal lands. Harrah’s Cherokee’s two casino sportsbooks are run by Caesars, which has an online license. 

Not interested

North Carolina launched online wagering on March 11 in an important, sports-centric Tar Heel State. 

“That made it a high priority for myself, the team, and obviously working with the state itself,” DraftKings CCO Jeremy Elbaum told Covers on March 11. “It’s unique here in the sense of how big it is and how well-rounded it is.”

Two months later, DraftKings, who partnered with NASCAR to guarantee an operating license in North Carolina, has shown no interest in adding brick-and-mortar betting. 

“At this time, we do not have plans to open a retail sportsbook,” a DraftKings spokesperson told Covers. “We are focused on delivering our customers a best-in-class experience while engaging with our online sportsbook.”

Bang for their buck

North Carolina sports betting generated nearly $660 million of online wagers and nearly $12 million of tax revenue for the state in March. 

Maybe retail sports betting won’t produce enough added revenue to make up for the costs of employing people and dealing with all of the logistics of brick-and-mortar. Maybe the online profits have shown sportsbooks that they’re getting enough bang for their buck already with advertisements and visuals/signage from existing partners. 

Still, retail sports betting at eight North Carolina sports venues was a part of the bill that became law last June. When sportsbook operators started partnering with Tar Heel State entities, it was assumed that brick-and-mortar shops would follow, even though regulators described the launch as “tiered” with retail coming later because of logistics.  

Venues and partnerships

BetMGM joined the Charlotte Motor Speedway, home of NASCAR’s Memorial Day weekend extravaganza, to help ensure a license in North Carolina. BetMGM is also the title sponsor of the Xfinity race on May 25. 

Yet it’ll be at least until next year before an in-person sportsbook is made available at the track. 

Fanatics is a betting partner with the Carolina Hurricanes, who are still in the NHL playoffs, but there’s no in-person wagering at PNC Arena right now.

FanDuel struck a deal to become the official sports betting partner with the Carolina Panthers and eventually open a brick-and-mortar shop at Bank of America Stadium, which hosts the NFL team, Charlotte FC of MLS. It won’t be long before crowds are coming to see the Panthers and multiple college football games this year at the attractive Uptown Charlotte venue.

The Hornets quickly added signage inside Charlotte’s Spectrum Center earlier this year when it inked a deal with bet365. A sportsbook at the pro and college basketball venue also makes sense. 

Sedgefield Country Club, the site of the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship in August, is partnered with Underdog Sports.

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