Basketball-Crazy North Carolina Welcomes Online Sports Betting

Online sports betting is expected to be a slam dunk in North Carolina as March Madness tips off. Mobile Sports gambling officially launched in the state on Monday, March 11. That’s just in time for the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

North Carolina sports betting Roy Cooper
North Carolina Roy Cooper speaks after signing the state’s sports betting bill into law on June 14, 2023. Cooper made a ceremonial first bet when sports betting started on Monday, March 11, placing $100 on the Carolina Panthers to win the 2024 Stanley Cup. (Image: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s Office)

The early days of online sports wagering are living up to expectations in the Tar Heel State, according to GeoComply. The geolocation company conducted more than 5.3 million geolocation checks in North Carolina during the first 48 hours of legal mobile sports betting.

By comparison, Virginia’s online sports betting market recorded slightly more than 2 million geolocation checks. Virginia has been live with sports betting since January 2021.

It’s early, but North Carolina is already delivering on lawmaker expectations when they legalized sports betting last year,” said GeoComply SVP of Compliance Lindsay Slader. “The state’s well-structured approach to mobile sports betting safeguards consumers and opens up significant revenue streams. With March Madness around the corner, we are excited to see continued growth.”

The NCAA tournament is one of the most wagered-on events in the U.S.

There’s another metric showing North Carolina emerging as a competitor to neighboring Virginia’s online sports market. That’s the nearly 370K active online sports betting accounts created in the first two days, compared to Virginia’s 134K active sports betting accounts.

SportsBooks in Full Court Press

North Carolina became the 30th state, in addition to Washington, D.C., to offer online sports betting, and sportsbooks were ready. As reported previously by, eight sportsbook operators began registering players on March 1.

Each of the sportsbook operators paid a $1 million licensing fee.

Expect this to be the most-bet March Madness in BetMGM history,” said John Ewing, BetMGM’s PR manager.

The University of North Carolina was the most-bet team to win March Madness during the first 24 hours of online sports betting in the Tar Heel State, according to BetMGM. The first bet in North Carolina history was placed by a person who bet $100 on UNC to win the tournament.

While basketball is a motivating factor behind North Carolina’s sports betting initiative, the state’s governor had different ideas. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) placed a ceremonial first bet just hours after sports betting went live, picking the Carolina Hurricanes to win the Stanley Cup.

Cooper’s office also used the occasion to release a video of the bet with a tagline that reads, “Bet Responsibly, North Carolina.”

Who’s Live in North Carolina?

North Carolina law dictates that all sportsbook operators must partner with an existing Carolina sports team, venue, and/or Native American tribe.

The state’s eight operators and their partners include:

  • Bet365 with the Charlotte Hornets
  • BetMGM with the Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Caesars with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • DraftKings with NASCAR
  • ESPN BET with the Quail Hollow Club (PGA Tour)
  • Fanatics Betting and Gaming with the Carolina Hurricanes
  • FanDuel with the Carolina Panthers and PGA Tour
  • Underdog with the Sedgefield Country Club (PGA Tour)

North Carolina is taxing the operators 18%, and state officials say the money will be used to help fund everything from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, youth sports, state universities, and gambling addiction services.

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