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Caesars first to launch sports betting in North Carolina with tribal partnership

| By Robert Fletcher
Caesars Entertainment has become the first operator to launch legal online sports betting in North Carolina, rolling out its sportsbook in partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
North Carolina Caesars

North Carolina is not due to launch full-scale legal sports betting until 11 March. However, Caesars’ deal with the tribe and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act has made it possible for the operator to go live ahead of this date.

Players can place bets at two Cherokee-run casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel. Betting is also permitted on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ tribal lands.

Caesars’ online sports betting offering will be extended across all North Carolina when the market fully launches next week. The operator has been running retail sportsbooks in the state for a number of years, with the online offering to complement these. 

“We’re thankful to be able to offer wagering at the Harrah’s Cherokee properties as part of our longstanding relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and, with the sports calendar heating up, there is a lot to be excited about,” Caesars Digital president Eric Hession said. 

“Thank you to the National Indian Gaming Commission, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission and its Sports Betting Committee for making this day a possibility.”

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ principal, Michell Hicks, also welcomed the launch. He said it builds on the long-running partnerships with Caesars in North Carolina.

“Over the years, the partnership between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Caesars Entertainment has only flourished and strengthened,” Hicks said. “We eagerly anticipate the chance to introduce mobile sports betting to North Carolina, offering a fresh and new experience to all sports fans.”

North Carolina: One week out from sports betting launch

With just one week to go until the entire market opens, preparations are well under way for sports betting in North Carolina.

When Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347 into law in June 2023 he gave approval to a timeline for implementation. This includes North Carolina publishing regulations before 8 January 2024 and operators accepting wagers before 14 June 2024.

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FanDuel, DraftKings, Fanatics, Bet365, BetMGM, ESPN Bet and Underdog have all been granted licences

North Carolina met the regulations guideline last month and operators will start taking bets well ahead of June’s deadline. Operators were also given a deadline of 26 January to submit their internal controls ahead of launching.

Last week, the first round of licensees were also confirmed in North Carolina, with some big-hitters among those securing approval. North Carolina’s State Lottery Commission awarded eight interactive sports wagering licences in total.

FanDuel, DraftKings, Fanatics, Bet365, BetMGM, ESPN Bet and Underdog picked up licences.

Who is partnered with who?

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

DraftKings is partnered with stock-car racing series Nascar and BetMGM teamed up with the Charlotte Motor Speedway. ESPN Bet gained entry to North Carolina by signing a PGA Tour deal to become the official betting operators of the Wells Fargo Championship, held in the state. FanDuel is also working with golf’s PGA Tour to launch in North Carolina. 

Meanwhile, Fanatics Betting and Gaming is working with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. This will see Fanatics become the team’s official sports betting partner. Bet365 signed a partnership deal with the NBA team the Charlotte Hornets in November 2023

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

Aside from operator licences, approvals have also been confirmed for sports wagering supplier licences. Successful applicants include GeoComply, SBTech and Sportradar.

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