The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians could soon start offering sports betting in North Carolina after the federal government recently approved a gaming compact. Sports betting has been legal in North Carolina since July 16, 2019, but there haven’t been any bets placed at this time.
Governor Roy Cooper has been working to amend the current gaming compact with the Native American tribe, which was approved in December. The U.S. Department of the Interior still needed to give the final approval, which came earlier this week.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians owns and operates two Harrah’s Casinos in the state of North Carolina, and sports betting could soon be coming to the Tar Heel state. In-person betting is allowed under the sports betting bill, and that was included in the amended gaming compact.
The EBCI offers sports betting in other states throughout the country, and that should allow them to get things up and running quickly. An official launch date has not yet been set, but the March Madness Tournament would provide plenty of action in a couple of weeks.
Online Could Come Next
Cooper hopes that this amended gaming compact will push lawmakers to include online sports betting in future legislation. Online betting is the most popular form throughout the United States and would provide substantial financial benefits to the state.
The North Carolina Lottery commissioned a report to study the sports betting industry, and online betting was recommended based on that report. Introducing online betting could provide a threat to the EBCI at the Harrah’s Casino, and the tribe would likely oppose any new legislation.
Lawmakers are expected to introduce a new piece of legislation at some point in 2021, and questions about the future of North Carolina sports betting could be answered soon.
Strong Sports Tradition in State
There are plenty of professional and collegiate teams that will help drive sports betting in the state after the industry takes off. The Carolina Panthers of the NFL and the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA will likely bring in plenty of action on the professional side of things.
College basketball is king in North Carolina, especially when it comes to the University of North Carolina and the Duke Blue Devils.
A Threat to Virginia?
Virginia officially launched sports betting on January 21, with all of the betting being done online at that time. Retail sports betting is coming at some point, but the casinos have not yet been built.
The Virginia Lottery reported that sports betting handle in January was just over $58 million, which is a strong start for a new market. There were some big-name operators ready to launch at that time, and the state will continue to see new operators launching in the coming months.
If North Carolina can offer complete sports betting experience in the near future, it would likely impose on the sports betting market in Virginia, but keeping potential bettors in North Carolina would generate significant additional revenue in-state.