North Carolina sports betting
Legal Developments

North Carolina Legalizes Sports Betting at Tribal Casinos

On Friday, North Carolina became the 17th state to legalize sports betting since last year’s historic Supreme Court ruling. Gov. Roy Cooper put pen to paper on SB 154 to allow sports wagering at a pair of Harrah’s Cherokee casinos in the western part of the state.

The bill passed through the NC Senate back in April with the House pushing it through on July 15. The new NC sports betting law is limited in scope, but there is another bill sitting in the Senate that seeks to create a North Carolina Gaming Commission, which will be directed to study the feasibility of authorizing sports betting in other parts of the state.

For now, the two retail sportsbooks will be the only game in town as the bill that was just signed includes no provisions for mobile wagering. Let’s take a closer look at what went down and how residents of North Carolina can get in on the action.

NC Sportsbook Locations

Sports betting has been approved for two casinos in the western portion of the state, both of which are operated by Caesars Entertainment under the Harrah’s brand and located on tribal lands.

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel in Murphy and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee have both been approved to open retail sportsbooks. Both are operated by Caesars Entertainment, which will have a monopoly over sports betting in North Carolina for the foreseeable future.

Brooks Robinson of Harrah’s Cherokee told The One Feather yesterday that he’s looking forward to the launch of sportsbooks at both casinos:

“This is an exciting time. We continuously work to offer new experiences and opportunities to our customers and are confident that our new sportsbook will be an added delight for our guests and sports fans.”

Caesars will open a sports betting area at each casino called The Book and construction is underway now. The sportsbook at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River will be located near the promotions stage while the sportsbook at Harrah’s Cherokee will first launch in a temporary where SoundBytes is now located.

When NC Sports Betting Begins

Both sportsbooks are under construction as you read these words, but neither is expected to go live by the start of the upcoming football season. However, plans are in place to commence sports betting “by late fall.”

Here’s Harrah’s Regional VP of Marketing Brian Saunooke on the timeline:

“By late fall, football will be in full swing. That’s an exciting time for sports bettors in general. We will be looking at other sports as well. We expect to have a full offering similar to what you would have in other markets, like Las Vegas.”

Missing the start of the season is unfortunate, but late fall is still a very busy time of year with the NFL and college football both in the thick of their respective seasons. If all goes well, both NC sportsbooks will also be able to capitalize on the betting frenzy the Super Bowl delivers every year.

Details on The Two Casinos That Will Offer NC Sports Betting

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel is located in Murphy and opened in 2015. It includes more than 50,000-square feet of gaming space dedicated to slots and table games.

Among the property amenities is the UltraStar Multi-Entertainment Center that features an arcade, bowling alley and restaurant. The hotel itself has 300 rooms and spans seven stories.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is located in Cherokee and has been open since December 1997. This is a more expansive property with over 1,100 rooms. Visitors will find 150,000-square feet of space to enjoy table games and slot machines.

The property is close to the Sequoyah National Golf Club, a Par-72, 18-hole course which spans 6,600 yards, and features numerous shopping and dining options.

As Saunooke added, sports betting will be a welcome addition to both locations.

“A lot of our customers have been asking about this for quite a while,” Saunooke said. “It’s an exciting option and a lot of people look to that as part of their overall gaming experience and trip.”

What About Mobile Betting in NC?

The bill signed into law last week does not include any provisions for mobile sports betting. It is unclear if that will be changing anytime soon, but there is a study underway for a full rollout of sports betting in the Tar Heel state.

In states which have given a thumbs up to both retail and mobile betting, the latter has accounted for a large portion of the revenue. Using New Jersey as an example, mobile betting accounted for a whopping 80 percent of bets placed in the first full year of legalization in the state.

While there’s no mobile betting in NC for now, the state has not placed any restrictions on wagering on college teams. The law also does not require an integrity fee from operators.

If we can ignore the lack of mobile betting (which is admittedly a huge miss), the new North Carolina sports betting bill looks good for residents and operators alike. No integrity fees, no new taxes and no overly burdensome regulations have been imposed on operators. In fact, the entire bill itself clocks in at just two pages in length.

The Bottom Line on NC Sports Betting

North Carolina has become the 17th state in total to legalize sports betting in some form. For the year, NC becomes the 7th state to pull the trigger.

While the rollout is limited to just retail sportsbooks at the state’s two tribal casinos, the bottom line is that almost any legalization measure is a good start. Across the nation, there has been a ton of progress in the legalization of sports betting in just a little over a year. It’s safe to say there will be even more to come, perhaps even before 2019 comes to a close.

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