North Carolina Sports Betting: Legal Status & Guide 2021

Sports Betting Legal; Nowhere to Bet Yet (2021)

Sports betting has been legal for some time now in North Carolina. However, unfortunately, not only has the state taken the route of going in-person only, which should decimate the betting numbers compared to other states, but you still cannot bet in North Carolina.

Regulators and lawmakers in North Carolina have made an absolute mess of attempting to legalize sports betting in the state. The two physical locations, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River in Murphy, have both yet to open their doors. This is due both in part to the casinos taking their time getting the sportsbook deals together and the State taking their time signing off on the licenses.

For many bettors in North Carolina, it seems like traveling to Tennessee or Virginia, both of which offer fantastic online sports betting options, might just be a better bet. Not only will this allow for more competitive odds and an easier time wagering, but it is actually up and running, unlike sports betting in North Carolina.

Hopefully, sometime in mid-2021, sports betting will begin for these casinos, but there is no guarantee that these sportsbooks will be good or offering competitive odds as they have a monopoly on the state. There is also the fact that you have to eat a sunk cost of traveling hours to get to these casino properties.

How to bet legally in North Carolina

Last year, North Carolina took the first step towards legalizing betting throughout the state. The North Carolina House passed Bill 154 legalizing sports betting and horse race wagering at tribal casinos throughout the state. There are no state laws that prohibit residents from betting on sports at the local tribal casinos. However, 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. If you wish to place sports wagers on games, you can visit one of the two tribal casinos in the state to place sports bets on or partake in casino games. All casinos in North Carolina are operated by Harrah’s and located on the western border in Cherokee and Murphy counties, away from the crowded urban areas. The Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is located just west of Asheville near Maggie Valley, while the Harrah’s River Casino in Murphy is near the Georgia and Tennessee borders.

North Carolina Betting Laws

In July 2019, the state legalized sports betting and bettors are now allowed to place bets in state-licensed casinos. Betting on professional and collegiate sports is completely legal at these sites. All sportsbooks located at the Harrah’s casinos are regulated by the state of North Carolina.  However, mobile online betting has not been authorized or regulated yet. According to North Carolina law, you must 21 years of age and older. Betting sites will allow users to register an account as young as 18; however, state laws restrict you from placing a bet unless you’re 21.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily Fantasy sports betting is completely legal in North Carolina, although gaming has not yet been officially regulated by lawmakers. Discussion on regulations for daily fantasy sports is still being held in the state House. The most popular fantasy sports sites used in North Carolina are DraftKings and FanDuel.

Mobile Sports Betting (Not Live Yet)

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North Carolina Sports Betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in North Carolina?

Yes, sports betting was legalized in North Carolina in 2019. However, currently, there is nowhere to play. Only retail locations were allowed to have sports betting, and the state has yet to get through the licensing process for these locations. Hopefully, 2021 will be the year that you can wager in North Carolina.

Is mobile sports wagering legal in North Carolina?

No, North Carolina does not have online or mobile sports betting in the state. The only sports betting allowed is at two physical casinos and sportsbooks located in North Carolina. This was due to strong lobbying efforts by the gaming lobby in the state.

Can I play online casino games in North Carolina?

No, there are no online casino games, including no online poker in the State of North Carolina. You cannot wager on any kind of casino games such as slots, table games, or poker. To bet on casino games, you will have to visit a physical casino within the state.

Where can I wager on sports in North Carolina?

While you cannot bet on sports yet, the two locations that will be allowing sports betting are Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River in Murphy. Once these sportsbooks are up and operating with a license, they will be the place to bet in North Carolina.

What states near North Carolina offer sports betting?

Both Virginia and Tennessee offer full online sports betting. While Tennessee does not offer physical sportsbooks, Virginia has both in-person and online sports wagering. Both of these states offer much more variety and have competing sportsbooks, which greatly benefits the consumer.

Is sports betting allowed under federal law?

Yes, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the ban on sports betting was unconstitutional in 2018. Now, it is completely up to states to decide on whether sports betting should be allowed. It is also up to the states to regulate, license, and control sports wagering within their borders.

Will online betting be allowed in the future?

Online sports betting does not look promising for North Carolina. While there are big lobbies at play here, the fact that it has taken two years to get even just two physical sportsbooks operating following legalization does not inspire hopes of anything getting done soon.

Can I bet on college sports in North Carolina?

Yes, North Carolina allows for both collegiate and professional sports betting. Currently, there is a specific law stating that you cannot bet on in-state schools. This means that some of North Carolina’s largest sports markets, Duke and The University of North Carolina, are off the board in the state.

Is daily fantasy sports legal in North Carolina?

Daily fantasy is operational in North Carolina. The legal framework was put in place with the legalization of sports betting. You can play on DraftKings, FanDuel, and many other major daily fantasy sites right now in North Carolina with no restrictions.

Do I have to be a resident of North Carolina to wager on sports?

No, you can visit North Carolina casinos to bet on sports. There is no law stating that you need to be a resident of that state to bet. However, there is no online wagering; you must visit one of two locations of Harrah’s to bet on sports within the North Carolina borders.

Legislative History and Revenue in North Carolina

Gambling laws in North Carolina actually go all the way back to the 1700s when all forms of gambling were eventually outlawed after legislative bills prior to 1791 limited wagering in the state. Since 1791, it has been seen as one of the stricter states against gambling, which makes their first steps into legalizing sports betting a big one. In 1945, laws permitting bingo were adopted and state lotteries have been in place as a way to add revenue for the state for over 100 years now. In fact, the state makes between $1.5 billion and $1.9 billion of revenue every year with the state lottery.

The Harrah’s Cherokee casino was authorized to begin offering table games in August 2012 and it was also authorized to build a second tribal casino that has been operating since 2015. Parimutuels betting was allowed beginning in the 1940s, but in 1954, it was outlawed and banned. All dog tracks in North Carolina were closed down. After the U.S. Supreme Court authorized all forms of gambling to be allowed to be drafted into state constitutions, North Carolina has begun taking steps towards adding new laws permitting gambling. In July 2019, sports gambling at tribal casinos became legal and legislation has been drawn up to legalize it in all forms, although that measure has not yet been passed.

North Carolina’s gaming casinos hit a revenue of $393 million in the last year. Currently, the Eastern Band of Cherokee is the only brand allowed to offer Class III gaming in the state. The Tribal Gaming Commission is responsible for all regulations and gaming activities on their lands. Recently, the state and the Eastern Band came to an agreement where the Eastern Band would share some of their revenue with the state. According to the agreement, the state will receive state revenue from new games as well as live table games that operate at the casinos with live dealers. Between 2017 and 2021, 5% of gross gaming revenue will go to the state. That will increase by 1% every four years moving forward.  North Carolina currently has 4,400 gaming machines available for use. Some of the games available for use include BlackJack, Craps, Roulette, Bingo, Video Poker, Slot Machines, Mississippi Stud, and Let It Ride. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino generates 8% of all wages and 5% of all state jobs between the two casinos.

I have a BA in Journalism from the University of South Florida and worked as a sports editorial assistant and supervisor for the Tampa Bay Times for 10 years. I've also taught and managed a Journalism program at the high school level and currently work as a freelance writer. I have a deep passion for sports, particularly golf, football, and baseball, and have been active in the gambling industry for the last 10 years.