NC has legalized online sports betting, and the first regulated mobile sportsbooks could go live as early as January 2024.
Last updated: September 25, 2023
North Carolina has many forms of legalized gambling. It started in 1945 with charitable bingo games. Raffles were later added to the same law. In the 1990s, video poker was legal statewide. This opened the door for Harrah’s Cherokee, which became the first North Carolina casino in 1997. It only offered video poker and skill games in its early days.
A state lottery launched in 2006, which led to the end of the video poker industry. Casino expansion included adding table games to Harrah’s Cherokee and two new tribal casinos. Sports betting launched at these casinos in 2021. Off-track betting was approved at the same time. However, no North Carolina casinos offer this form of legalized gambling.
The North Carolina Legislature approved statewide mobile sports betting in 2023. These apps and websites are expected to open in 2024.
Yes, sports betting is legal in North Carolina. The state legalized online sports betting in June 2023, but there won’t be any operators available until at least January 8, potentially not before June 14, 2024. Once online sports betting goes live, residents of the Tar Heel State and visitors will have the opportunity to place wagers without any restrictions on teams, sports or markets.
After several years of debate, the North Carolina Legislature legalized mobile and online sportsbooks in June 2023 through H 347. It was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper. The state lottery will regulate online sports betting. It will be a competitive market with multiple options like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars. The tax rate is 18%.
The bill originally called for the state to issue up to 12 mobile sports betting licenses, but lawmakers are considering a proposal to have operators form a partnership with either a professional sports team, or certain auto racing tracks and golf courses.
The NC Education Lottery must launch online sportsbooks between January 8, 2024, and June 14, 2024. This means there is a chance it could be live for the 2024 NCAA College Football Playoff Championship, NFL playoffs, and March Madness.
Professional and college sports will be available on licensed betting apps and websites. The are no restrictions on college betting. Any type of wager, from point spreads, totals, parlays, teasers, props, and futures, will be on the board for college betting. All NC colleges and universities, including UNC, NC State, Wake Forest, and Duke, will have betting available on major sports. The list of available sports for professional and college betting includes football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, golf, tennis, auto racing, boxing, mixed martial arts, and rugby.
Professional sports venues may have retail sportsbooks under H 347. The Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Charlotte Bobcats are among the teams that may build sportsbooks for their fans in attendance.
The minimum age for NC sports betting is 21. This applies to betting apps and retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos, stadiums, and arenas. Mobile bettors must be inside North Carolina state lines when placing a wager for it to be accepted. Geolocation software is used to pinpoint where the device is when a bet is placed. If the location is outside of North Carolina or can’t be determined, the bet will be rejected.
Residency is not a requirement for retail or mobile sports betting. Visitors from other states, including Georgia and South Carolina where sports betting remains illegal, may cross the state line and use North Carolina betting apps.
BetMGM has been one of the leading sportsbooks in the country and currently, there is a really high chance they will be among the first to obtain the operating license for The Tar Heel State. If they receive the license, North Carolina would become their 24th state where they offer mobile sports wagering.
BetMGM is widely recognized as a sportsbook with excelenty variety of markets for each of the 20+ supported sports, while also being very competitive with the odds. Additionally, it boasts modern features such as the ability to edit bets, cash out, engage in same-game parlays, access live streaming, and many other innovative options.
If BetMGM decide to follow the same strategic approach as seen in their launches in other states in 2023, such as Massachusetts, Ohio, and Kentucky, they are likely to havea pre-launch offer for sports bettors in North Carolina, just make sure to check this page frequently for fresh info. They will also have a standard welcome package available when sports betting becomes available between January 8, 2024, and June 14, 2024.
DraftKings US, one of the giants in the sports betting industry, is also expected to be among the approved operators in North Carolina. Initially renowned as the nation’s top operator for daily fantasy sports, they have successfully expanded their presence into the realms of casinos and sports betting.
DraftKings had the most generous pre-launch offer when sports betting was launched in Kentucky in September 2023. Given their track record, it wouldn’t be surprising to witness a similar offering for North Carolina later this year.
Another compelling reason for us to recommend DraftKings US to all sports bettors is their frequency and committment to serving generous promotions for new and exciting customers. Their betting app is rated as one of the best in the market, being extremely easy to use and place wagers without any hassle.
There are three retail sportsbooks in North Carolina. Two are operated by Caesars Sportsbook. The other is an IGT operation. Retail sportsbooks were legalized at tribal casinos through S 154 in 2019. This allowed the governor to add it to existing gaming compacts. The first bet was accepted two years later.
North Carolina sportsbooks accept all the same types of wagers you find in Las Vegas. This includes pro and college sports. Available leagues include the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, UFC, and NCAA. Football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, golf, tennis, auto racing, boxing, mixed martial arts, cricket, and rugby are on the board. Straight bets, parlays, teasers, props, futures, and live better are among the bets patrons may make at North Carolina sportsbooks.
The Caesars Sportsbook at Harrah’s Cherokee opened on March 18, 2021. It is by far the largest in North Carolina. There is a 90-foot TV wall in front of the stadium and VIP seating for over 100 sports fans. There are three private fan caves. Each has an 85-inch television and two that are about half that size. Guests control what shows on the TVs.
There are two ways to bet on sports at Harrah’s Cherokee. The ticket counter opens in the late morning and accepts bets until at least midnight daily. Caesars Sportsbook kiosks are available 24 hours a day.
The WSOP poker room is adjacent to the Harrah’s Cherokee Caesars Sportsbook. Many poker seats offer a great view of the sports action.
Fan caves require reservations and a minimum food and beverage spend that depends on the event. There are ten restaurants and a full bar available as part of this requirement. An 18% gratuity is added to all reservations. Major events require a fee to sit in the standard stadium seating.
The Caesars Rewards Card is accepted by the Harrah’s Cherokee sportsbook. Players earn one tier and reward credit for every $5 wagered. A reward credit is worth a penny. Tier points help players move up the Caesars Rewards players club. Players start at Gold. Higher tiers are Platinum, Diamond, Diamond Plus, Diamond Elite, and Seven Stars. The Seven Stars Caesars Rewards tier is invite-only.
The other Caesars Sportsbook in North Carolina is at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. It is much smaller than the one at the main casino. It opened on March 18, 2021. Ticket windows are open all but overnight hours. Kiosks take bets 24 hours a day.
The Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Caesars Sportsbook has 25 plush leather seats that face a 25-foot TV wall. The sportsbook has a video poker bar and lounge. There is drink service available. However, food is not served.
Caesars Rewards members who use their card when making bets receive one tier and one rewards credit for every $5 wagered. Swiping the players card also attaches the ticket to the bettor in case the ticket is lost.
The sportsbook at Catawba Two Kings is operated by IGT. It opened in September 2022. There are no teller windows. Kiosks accept wagers 24 hours a day.
A small seating area is available with a set of televisions for viewing. It is part of the casino floor, allowing slot players to also watch the games.
There are three tribal casinos in North Carolina. Two are owned by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and operated by Caesars Entertainment. The other is owned by the Catawba Indian Nation and operated by Delaware North.
Alcohol is served at all three North Carolina casinos. Alcoholic drinks are not comped in accordance with state law and tribal gaming compacts. However, slot points may be used to purchase cocktails, beer, and wine. Casinos are permitted to sell drinks for up to half price to VIP players.
Harrah’s Cherokee was the first North Carolina casino. It opened in 1997. There were about 500 video poker machines. It was created through a 1994 gaming compact with then-Gov. James B. Hunt after years of debate in the state about gambling expansion.
Today, the Harrah’s Cherokee casino floor is about 150,000 square feet. There are about 150 live table games and 3600 slots. It is one of the largest casinos in the United States. In addition to gaming, there are four hotel tours, more than a dozen restaurants, a bowling alley, a concert venue, and a convention center.
The first casino games on the Cherokee, North Carolina reservation were all Pot of Gold and IGT video poker machines. Slots and table games were not permitted at the time. That is because video poker machines were legal statewide in that era and the state resisted gambling expansion. The original Harrah’s Cherokee had a minimum age of 18 for entry. Alcohol was not served.
The casino’s location moved to its current land in 2002. This included a major expansion and the increase of the admission age to 21 through a tribal vote the year before. However, alcohol was still banned on the Cherokee Reservation. Alcohol sales were not permitted until 2009.
In 2002, electronic table games were added. This included video baccarat, blackjack, crapless craps, and roulette. Some video baccarat and blackjack tables had live dealers and chips with digital cards. The baccarat game was called “Baccarito.”
In 2005, an expansion attempted to add Pokertek tables. These were video tables for poker rooms. Cash games and tournaments were available on these devices. The software could deal Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and seven card stud. However, Gov. Michael Easley at the time claimed these games required a new gaming compact with new taxes.
Harrah’s Cherokee has never paid state gaming taxes on electronic gaming devices. Casino management contended that poker fell under its bingo agreement, to no avail.
All slots required skill in the early years of Harrah’s Cherokee. This required some creativity. Special “Lock and Reel” slots were invented to comply with that requirement. These machines played like video poker. Reels were displayed. The machine gave the player the option of holding reels and re-spinning unwanted ones like a video poker draw.
In 2006, Cherokee Raffle Reels were invented, using a charitable gaming law carveout. There were daily raffles with entries based on the amount of coin-in played the day before on these specific slots. A Caesars Rewards card, known as Total Rewards at the time, was required for these games.
In 2012, the new gaming compact removed the necessity of Cherokee Raffles Reels. It was immediately discontinued. Lock and Roll slots remained somewhat popular before completely disappearing from the Harrah’s Cherokee casino floor in 2022.
Keno also required skill. All machines with this game asked players if they wanted to double their bet after ten balls dropped. Today, there are both skill and traditional keno machines.
A new gaming compact in 2012 added live table games. Live baccarat, blackjack, craps, Crazy 4 Poker, Let It Ride, High Card Flush, Mississippi Stud, roulette, Three Card Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em were among the new games on the floor at Harrah’s Cherokee.
A new poker room opened in 2012. At first, Pokertek machines were used instead of live cards. Harrah’s Cherokee cited staffing shortages for using poker machines. As staffing levels increased, live tables slowly replaced electronic ones. Today, all poker at Harrah’s Cherokee is live.
The 2012 gaming compact allowed the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to operate three casinos west of Asheville. The Tribe has exclusivity in that part of the state.
The second Harrah’s Cherokee casino was built on land placed into trust after the new compact. The property is minutes east of Murphy, about an hour west of Harrah’s Cherokee. It is called Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. It is a much smaller version of the original Harrah’s Cherokee. It is home to about 50,000 square feet of gaming space with 1,000 slot machines and 70 live table games.
There is no poker room at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. One is planned after the current renovation is completed. It will have ten tables. A Caesars Sportsbook is just off the casino floor.
There are few amenities at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. There is a bowling alley with an arcade, a small hotel, one full-service restaurant, and a food court.
Catawba Two Kings is the newest North Carolina casino. It is between Charlotte and the South Carolina state line in Kings Mountain.
The casino is in a temporary structure that is about 30,000 square feet. There are around 1,000 slot machines. The Catawba Indian Nation and its casino partner Delaware North intend to build a permanent casino with a hotel. However, delays plagued the project. It has not broken ground. The property shows no signs of progress.
Slots make up nearly all the machines at Catawba Two Kings. These are video slots and reels. There are no video poker machines. There is an Interblock stadium with baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette.
There are sports betting kiosks available. These are operated by IGT. There are no ticket-writing counters.
There are 32 tables at the Harrah’s Cherokee WSOP poker room. More are added during special events like the WSOP Circuit. Most games are no-limit Texas hold’em. The main blinds are 1/3 and 2/5. There are pot limit Omaha games during peak hours. There are 10 no-limit hold’em tournaments every week. There are two Monday through Thursday and one each on Fridays and Sundays.
Harrah’s Cherokee poker players should be aware that the rake caps at 10% up to $7, which is higher than most rooms. The rake on tournaments is also excessive. The Harrah’s Cherokee poker room is open from 10 AM to 6 AM on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends. All days are 24 hours when the WSOP Circuit is at Cherokee.
Off-track betting has been legal since March 2021 at North Carolina tribal casinos. None offer this type of wagering. That may change when online sportsbooks open in the state. Off-track racing apps are permitted under H 347. Horses, greyhounds, and any other pari-mutuel event where participants finish in a ranked order are allowed. The minimum age is 21.
Online poker and casino sites are illegal in North Carolina. The ones that operate in the state are unlicensed and located offshore. These have no player protections. The online casino and poker situation may change in the coming years.
Several key North Carolina legislators support expanding gambling to commercial casinos and video lottery. Some lobbyists hope this includes licensing poker and casino sites. If approved, this would easily integrate into the online sportsbooks that are expected to launch in the first half of 2024.
There are three tribal casinos in North Carolina. The state legislature is studying expanding casinos into eastern parts of the state to compete with new ones in nearby Virginia and the Little River Inlet cruises just across the border in South Carolina.
Video lottery terminals are part of the same discussion. These games would resemble the video poker machines found in the state during the 1990s through the mid-2000s.
The first form of legalized gambling in North Carolina was charitable bingo. These games were approved in 1945. There are three regulations that apply to North Carolina bingo games. Operators must be properly registered as a nonprofit with the IRS for at least a year. Licensing is $200 per year. There may be no more than two bingo sessions per week at least 48 hours apart. The largest permissible prize is $500.
Beach bingo is permitted in North Carolina. These are games offered by taverns and restaurants. The top prize may not exceed $10. There is no limit on the number of beach bingo sessions permitted.
North Carolina legalized statewide video poker by mistake in the 1990s. It was permitted through laws that legalized some games that require a degree of skill for low limits. Video poker was thought to be included due to its vague language.
Once video poker machines started appearing in businesses across the state, the North Carolina Legislature passed several laws to keep the stakes low. The largest prize permitted for any session was $10. Payments could not be in cash. It could only be gift cards or merchandise. No establishment could have more than three video poker machines. Gambling could not be the primary business.
These rules were widely ignored. Businesses opened multiple fronts for video poker in the same shopping centers, malls, and truck stops. Illegal cash payments were made. Neighboring video poker halls traded cash for gift cards, which were often paid in amounts higher than $10.
In 2000, South Carolina killed its video poker industry. North Carolina rushed to add a new law that prevented South Carolina machines from crossing the border. There was a moratorium on new video poker licenses. There were about 10,000 licensed machines when this law was passed. It is believed twice that many were in the state.
The hope was to let video poker slowly die as machines became obsolete and inoperable. Operators simply switched serial numbers onto newer devices. Most were Pot of Gold machines, best known for the Shamrock 7s video poker game.
In North Carolina, county sheriffs are tasked with enforcing state gambling laws. Most did not have the resources or will to fight the problem. State law enforcement associations lobbied the legislature to ban the machines due to the inability to enforce gambling laws.
For years, the North Carolina Legislature debated throwing video poker out of the state. In 2006, the legislature created a state lottery. At the same time, it banned video poker in the state unless it was on tribal land. This was done gradually.
A year after passage, businesses could only have two machines. The next year, only one video poker device was allowed. On that anniversary, the last video poker machines became illegal unless it was at Harrah’s Cherokee, which ironically does not pay gaming taxes on slots because of the former video poker industry that allowed it to get off the ground in the 1990s.
The war on video poker was just beginning in North Carolina. Internet sweepstakes cafes were the newest invention. Patrons bought internet time at businesses. There were potential prizes awarded through the same video poker and keno games the state just expelled.
The North Carolina Legislature repeatedly played cat and mouse with the sweepstakes cafes, which mimicked video poker casinos and paid cash on winnings. The law would change to address the current sweepstakes cafe invention, only to have the games change and require new language. This war continues to this day as games and delivery methods of online gambling change.
Like most states, North Carolina has a state lottery. It is called the “NC Education Lottery.” Predictably, proceeds help fund education in the state. The first scratch-off tickets were sold on March 30, 2006. Powerball lotto tickets were first sold two months later.
Scratch-off tickets sell for $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, $20, $25, and $30, depending on the game. The NC Education Lottery operates keno, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Cash 5. It participates in national drawings like Lucky for Life, Mega Millions, and Powerball.
In late 2023, the NC Education Lottery will begin online sales. Instant games and lotto drawing tickets will be available.
North Carolina tribal casinos may operate off-track betting parlors for horse and greyhound racing. However, none of the three casinos offer it.
Online betting in North Carolina was legalized in June 2023 when Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347. This legislation charges the NC Lottery Commission to regulate sports betting.
Online sportsbooks are expected to begin accepting wagers from January 8, 2024, to June 14, 2024. There is a good chance North Carolina residents will be able to place bets legally on the Super Bowl, March Madness, NBA & NHL Playoffs, and NCAA College Football.
There is a strong likelihood that BetMGM Sportsbook will be among the first sportsbooks in North Carolina. The operator was among the first to obtain a license in recently launched states like Kentucky, Ohio, and Massachusetts, so players should be able to use the brand when sports betting goes live.
Residents of the Tar Heel State will be able to place wagers on professional and college sports without any restrictions. This includes all college teams like NC State, Wake Forest, UNC, and Duke. Besides football, there will be a variety of markets for basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer, ice hockey, and other popular sports.
If we count in professional teams only, the NFL franchise Carolina Panthers are at the top of the popularity list, followed by the ice hockey team Carolina Hurricanes and the NBA team Charlotte Bobcats. Sports bettors will be able to place bets on these teams legally in 2024.
You need to be at least 21 years old to open an account with online sportsbooks in North Carolina. Besides the age requirement, sports bettors have to be physically located in the state to get their wagers accepted.
You will be able to bet legally in North Carolina when sports betting goes live between January 8, 2024, and June 14, 2024. Choose a sportsbook, open an account, and verify your age and identity to start placing legal wagers.