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As of 2019, sports betting is legal in the state of North Carolina, including betting on professional and collegiate sports. However, currently, there is nowhere to play.
On July 15, 2019, the N.C. House passed Senate Bill 154, joining the Senate in approving sports betting and horse wagering in the state, although the bill restricts sports wagering to tribal lands only.
Nor does it allow mobile wagering because it requires bets be placed only at Eastern Band of Cherokee casinos in Cherokee and Murphy, North Carolina’s two tribal casinos.
This is a big step for the Tar Heel State, which in the past has adopted a firm anti-gambling stance that still endures in many of its political and social circles today.
In this complete guide to legal NC sports betting our experts break down all the key points including:
We’ll also touch on lots of other important points including the daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting situation, the sports North Carolinians are most likely to focus their activities on when legal betting begins, and exactly how NC online sports betting sites will work.
For more information on the sports betting laws in other parts of the country, check out our state by state guides.
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With the passing of SB 154, there are now no state laws that exist which prohibit residents from betting on sports at the local tribal casinos.
The Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is west of Asheville near Maggie Valley, while the Harrah’s River Casino in Murphy is located right near the Georgia and Tennessee borders.
Currently, all types of online betting must be restricted to daily fantasy sports and online lottery games. There are no online poker or online casino games allowed, either.
To place sports wagers on games or partake in casino games, you must visit one of the two tribal casinos in the state. All North Carolina casinos are currently operated by Harrah’s and they are located on the western border of the state in Cherokee and Murphy counties, purposely away from any crowded urban areas.
However, online social casinos are completely legal in North Carolina, featuring traditional casino games and slot machines inspired by the ones you find at any other online or land-based casino.
With these sites, players don’t have to risk their own money to play, though on some sites they can still win cash prizes. That is not technically considered gambling and these social casinos are perfectly legal for North Carolina players to participate in.
It’s not just online sports betting that the state of North Carolina outlaws. The current laws ban basically all forms of online gambling. Here’s what the statute on online gambling states.
“Except as provided in Chapter 18C of the General Statutes or in Part 2 of this Article, any person or organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or bets on any game of chance at which any money, property or another thing of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. This section shall not apply to a person who plays at or bets on any lottery game being lawfully conducted in any state.”
Committing this offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina and is punishable by a fine or up to 60 days in prison.
Unfortunately for residents in North Carolina, there are no legal online betting sites that are guaranteed safe to use.
Technically, there are no laws that outlaw betting on offshore sites but doing so comes with certain risks. Since these sites are not licensed or regulated in the United States, resolving any disputes or receiving a refund when something goes wrong can be very difficult if not impossible.
For those now living in North Carolina, here are three options that are likely to offer safe, secure, and national platforms to the state.
This Canadian-based website is already accepting bets in the US in places like New Jersey and we expect it to be a good bet for new states that allow legal betting.
Sports Interaction used to be based in the United States but decided to focus on Canada when US officials started making it harder and harder to deposit money into offshore accounts.
This globally-successful betting site already boasts a long-standing reputation in the sports betting industry. The 888 brand was founded in 1997 and has built an empire in the two decades since.
888sport already accepts sports wagers in New Jersey and is actively pursuing opportunities in other parts of the US. Originally from London, the outlet offers $20 for your first play, a variety of ways to make deposits to place your bets, and a long-standing reputation that draws in new customers.
This long-standing casino brand from Nevada released an online sportsbook for residents in New Jersey earlier in 2018, and there’s hope that the enterprise will expand its presence in the United States.
Early reviews from users in New Jersey are solid, which could persuade BetMGM Sportsbook to move into new markets like North Carolina.
Once online sports betting (eventually, hopefully) becomes legalized in North Carolina, residents will be able to bet on sports of all kinds from North America and around the world.
In North Carolina, there are a number of professional and college teams that will draw most of the attention of local sports bettors.
There are also a number of motorsports that are popular in North Carolina so It’s a good bet that racing will be a focal point for sports bettors in the state too.
Although sports betting became legal in North Carolina in July 2019, it is currently in-person only, which will most likely kill the overall gambling numbers compared to other states.
Plus right now, the two physical locations where you can legally place sports bets – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River in Murphy, both of which are run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, – have yet to open their doors to the public.
Not only are the casinos taking forever to get their sportsbook deals together, North Carolina regulators and lawmakers have also been taking their time signing off on the licenses required to move forward.
For the more mobile Tar Heel bettors, for now, it might be easier to travel to nearby Tennessee or Virginia, both states offering fantastic online sports betting options that are currently up and running.
If (but more likely when) legal online sports betting comes to Carolina, here’s a simplified look at what betting on sports legally will look like.
If you’re looking for a glimmer of good news in this article, you’re in the right section. One of the greatest sports betting trends in the 21st century has been the rise of fantasy sports betting, and residents have access to fantasy sports betting in North Carolina.
Here are three options for legal fantasy sports betting in North Carolina.
One of the most popular sports betting websites in the United States, DraftKings Sportsbook. Estimates for 2019 predicted the website payed out approximately $1 billion in winnings.
Another huge player in the DFS world, FanDuel reportedly paid out almost $2 billion in winnings in 2015. Like the other sites, FanDuel offers good bonuses for first-time players.
The newcomer to the fantasy sports game, DraftDay is already making waves, A couple of the reasons they are becoming more popular is because of their user-friendly interface and valuable bonuses.
Before we dive deeper into NC’s current sports betting situation, let’s rewind and take a look at the state’s gambling history in order to get some context.
Gambling laws in the State echoed the anti-gambling sentiments from back in England, and they weren’t positive.
In 1749. A law was passed that banned gambling where debts greater than 100 pounds.
In 1784, gambling (table games in particular) were on the upswing as a way to generate more revenue for the government but it didn’t last long.
From 1809 to 1835 the state-licensed over 60 lotteries but in 1835, as part of a country-wide movement against lotteries, they were all banned again.
In 1982 the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians started offering high-stakes bingo games, following a federal decision that exempted Indian reservations from state limits on bingo.
In 1994 the tribe reached an agreement with then-governor Jim Hunt in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. That led to the state’s first tribal casino, the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, which opened in 1997.
It wasn’t until 2012 that the casino was able to start offering table games, following a new agreement reached between the Eastern Band and Governor Beverly Perdue. The new compact also allowed for the construction of a second casino, Harrah’s Cherokee River Valley, which opened in 2015.
In the early 2000s, video poker machines were widespread in Carolina. While that might have shown an eagerness to make gambling more widespread in the State, Video Poker machines quickly became a thing of the past. The Senate repeatedly tried to shut them down, and they were eventually successful in 2007.
For a state that’s generally opposed to gambling, there was a breakthrough of sorts in 2006, when the State announced the North Carolina Education Lottery which offers scratch games, Powerball, and Mega Millions.
In late 2020, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who own the Cherokee Valley River Casino, as well as other holdings. The compact is actually a revision of a previous one that was signed in 2019. This gaming compact is designed to allow sports gambling to take place on the Native-controlled casinos where bettors will be able to wager on professional sports.
For those not well-versed in the sports betting world, you might have missed out on one very important headline from 2018.
The Supreme Court in the States struck down a 1992 law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which previously banned sports gambling everywhere in the US except Nevada. The law was designed to “protect the integrity of the game” and effectively banned US sports gambling at the federal level.
After PASPA was struck down, each state has the ability to legalize and regulate sports betting, both live and online, if they so choose.
Unfortunately for residents in North Carolina, they did not make the list of 28 states who currently have plans to legalize sports betting. However, there are reasons to be optimistic that this will change, but for now, North Carolina is left in the dark in regards to online sports betting.
Before we get into the current situation in North Carolina following the 2018 legislation on online sports betting, let’s look at a brief history of sports betting in the State.
Historically in North Carolina, conservative and religious groups have been largely against gaming in all forms, and unfortunately, these leaders hold considerable political and cultural sway in the state.
As recently as 2018, State Rep. Pricey Harrison had this to say about the possibility of legalizing sports betting in North Carolina.
“My knee-jerk reaction is it’s not good for the state, and I’d hate to see us open up to the whole gambling industry in North Carolina. I think we’re better than that. Who knows how this will affect the integrity of the sports? I think it’s insidious.”
Less than one year later Representative Harrison’s take was proven incorrect by political rivals with the passing of Senate Bill 154, which shows that the desire to bring more and more legalized gambling to North Carolina has been growing.
As long as opposition like that exists, though, it’s could be some time before legal online sports betting makes its way to North Carolina.
That said, the attitudes of politicians and citizens alike will likely continue to evolve and change as more states legalize and successfully promote online sports betting. At the moment there is some speculation as to whether or not mobile sports betting will be allowed by the 2021 NCAA March Madness season. If that mark is missed then at least we can look forward to the legalization of mobile betting on professional sports by the time the Super Bowl comes back.
Is Sports Betting Legal in North Carolina?
Sports betting in NC is legal, but as of yet, there is nowhere to place your bets. Look to 2021 for improvements in the situation.
Where Can I Bet on Sports in North Carolina?
As of now, sports betting is only permitted at a couple of Native casinos run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino.
What Sportsbooks are Available in North Carolina?
Look to 2021 for realistic sports betting to arrive in NC. There is speculation that by March Madness there will be a form of legal sports betting. Return to this page for updates in the coming months.
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After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.More info on Richard Janvrin
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