Sports Betting in North Carolina: Legal Status & Guide 2020

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 is 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 are 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.

The Next Step

Thirteen states currently have laws in place that allow sports gambling statewide. North Carolina is one of eight states that have a written bill in place to legalize all forms of sports gambling, most notably online. Currently, the bill in place only allows for sports gambling at the tribal casinos. However, that bill has not yet been passed by the state House and there is no timetable as to when this bill will be passed. As mentioned above, North Carolina is also in the process of regulating daily fantasy sports. However, with this regulation will likely come a tax on residents placing bets on DFS.

If North Carolina successfully passes the bill to legalize all forms of sports gambling, the next step in the process would be to find licensed sportsbooks that could serve as legal online sports apps for North Carolina residents. FanDuel would likely be one as it has become very popular in states that have legalized online sports gambling. Harrah’s would also certainly be another given it is already installed in the tribal casinos. The state would also look at adding casinos throughout the state with different sportsbooks attached to each one which could be bet on at the casinos or through mobile devices. Once the law is passed, it will take some time to install the software and set up licensed sportsbooks for residents to use. This could take anywhere from a few months to a year, as other states have illustrated.

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 which 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.

Next Legislative Meeting

North Carolina legislators will meet in April 2020 to discuss all legislation on the table and gambling will almost certainly be a hot topic, especially with other states moving towards ratifying it. However, the legislative session ends in July, so if nothing is agreed to in that three-month window, online sports betting will  likely be put on hold until 2021. Given North Carolina’s history of being strict on gambling, it’s still a tall task despite the sports betting authorization at the tribal casinos. In a best-case scenario, legislation is adopted and agreed to sometime in the middle of 2020 and software is installed and ready for use by the beginning of 2021.

  
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.