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Nearly $200m wagered in first week of North Carolina sports betting

| By Nick Brown
The Tar Heel State has released its first week's sports betting figures, with a total handle already nearing a quarter of a billion dollars.

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission has plenty of reasons to celebrate with over $198m wagered in the first week of sports betting, starting on Monday 11 March.

Detailed numbers have been released by the Commission’s first sports betting report. In total, payouts amounted to $142m from the $198m wagered, with $43m in gross wagering revenue.

A further breakdown revealed that $24m was wagered on the market’s first day. Of that total, $11m was paid out in gross wagering revenue. North Carolina is subject to an 18% tax rate on gross gaming revenue.

Which operators are live in North Carolina?

So far, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission has awarded eight interactive sports wagering licences to operators.

FanDuel, Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, Fanatics, Bet365, BetMGM, ESPN Bet and Underdog have all secured licences. 

Operators wanting to offer sports betting in the state must partner a sports team, league or venue within North Carolina. All of those issued a licence have secured such a deal, including DraftKings with Nascar.

BetMGM is working with the Charlotte Motor Speedway, while ESPN Bet has announced golf’s PGA Tour and its Wells Fargo Championship as partners.

Fanatics Betting and Gaming has partnered the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. Fanatics will be the team’s official sports betting partner. Bet365 signed a partnership deal with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets in November 2023. 

In addition, Underdog has expanded its position as a paid fantasy sports operator via a partnership with McConnell Golf.

What are they betting on?

While high returns were expected, estimates now go as high as $600m for the state’s first month’s total wagers. Earlier this month, geolocation specialist GeoComply tracked 5.4 million location checks from 370,000 active accounts. This activity was recorded between noon of 11 March and noon of 13 March.

This surpasses the two million checks from 134,000 active accounts in the first two days of Virginia’s launch. North Carolina has a population of 10.8 million as compared to 8.8 million in Virginia.

When it comes to sports, both DraftKings and Fanatics are seeing plenty of interest across hockey and basketball. The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, which began on 12 March, as well as the NCAA’s March Madness, have had a major impact on turnover. DraftKings, for example has seen the highest turnover on these so far.

Commenting, a DraftKings spokesperson said: “We’ve seen great engagement thus far in North Carolina and look forward to building off our strong start.”

For Fanatics Sportsbook, basketball is proving to be the big winner too. Vice president of communications, Kevin Hennessey, has plenty to be excited about.

“The launch of North Carolina has been very smooth for the Fanatics Sportsbook and it coincided with the start of the college basketball tournament.  NC State has been a big winner for customers as they have made their way through the tournament.” He said.

In a thrilling showdown on Sunday (31 March), Duke, based in North Carolina, faced off against North Carolina State in the men’s March Madness tournament. With North Carolina State winning the game 76-64, the team is now in the final four.

“North Carolina loves basketball and hockey, so it’s safe to say that we are looking forward to the next few months that includes the NBA Playoffs and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.” Henessey added.       

DraftKings has also recorded a number of notable bets for NC State, a certain customer has one $1,060 bet on NC State to win the NCAA tournament.

Which, at +50000 would mean a win of $530,000 – one that could certainly hold potential to pay out if NC State’s winning run continues.

Prop bets under fire

In what might have a future impact on betting handle however, the NCAA president Charlie Baker has now moved to ban prop bets.

Baker said that the decision came after there were reports of athletes being harassed in relation to college prop bets.

“Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country. Prop bets continue to threaten the integrity of competition and leading to student-athletes and professional athletes getting harassed,” said Baker.

He added that some states contacted by the NCAA in reference to the threats outright banned college prop bets. “The NCAA has been working with states to deal with these threats. Many are responding by banning college prop bets.”

One of these states was Ohio. Last month, its Casino Control Commission (OCCC) banned player prop bets on college sports following a request from the NCAA. Baker had reached out to the commission’s executive director Matt Schuler and requested a ban on college prop bets. Operators in Ohio had until 1 March to put the restrictions in place.

Baker confirmed that the NCAA would continue to reach out to states regarding the harassment, specifically asking them to consider banning college prop bets.

“This week we will be contacting officials across the country in states that still allow these bets and ask them to join Ohio, Vermont, Maryland and many others and remove college prop bets from all betting markets,” he continued.

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