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North Carolina’s regulated online sports betting market officially launched yesterday (11 March).

The launch date was set in January this year, following the passage into law of sports betting bill HB347 in June 2023.

The legislation allowed for operators in North Carolina, which already had a limited retail-based sports betting market, to apply for licences to offer betting online.

North Carolina first legalised sports betting in 2019, but it was limited to in-person betting at the state’s tribal casinos.

The passage of HB347, however, allowed for up to 12 online sportsbooks to be licensed in the state, with a tax rate set at 14% of sports betting revenue.

Under the legislation, sportsbooks are to be licensed by the North Carolina Education Lottery, with a five-year licence costing $1m.

In November, the North Carolina Lottery Commission approved a further set of rules governing practices in marketing and advertising, responsible gambling and KYC.

Market launches

From 1 March, customers have been able to register online betting accounts with licensed operators and make deposits, in advance of the state’s official go-live day yesterday.

At launch yesterday, eight online sportsbooks went live including market leaders FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM.

The other brands that went live were bet365, Caesars Sportsbook, ESPN Bet, Fanatics and Underdog.

Industry commentary

Several sports betting operators released public statements on their launches in North Carolina, celebrating the addition of another state to the list of regulated US sports betting jurisdictions.

“North Carolina is filled with sports fans who’ve shown us how passionate they are about their teams,” said Eric Hession, president of Caesars Digital, for example. 

“The expanded launch of our Caesars Sportsbook mobile app serves as an opportunity for fans to get a little closer to the sports they love, and we look forward to providing a best-in-class mobile sports wagering experience to more North Carolinians that pays homage to the sports excellence that is engrained in the state’s history,” he concluded.

BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said North Carolina was “one of BetMGM’s most electrifying new markets,” adding that “we look forward to delivering a best-in-class product elevating game days and race-viewing experiences for fans from Charlotte to Greensboro and Asheville to Wilmington.”

Elsewhere, Penn Entertainment-operated ESPN Bet celebrated its first ever new state launch, having previously been rolled out as a rebrand of Penn’s former Barstool Sportsbook operations.

“Launching ESPN Bet for North Carolina fans is a pivotal moment,” commented Mike Morrison, vice president of ESPN Bet and ESPN Fantasy. 

“This marks a significant stride forward, building on the momentum from our inaugural launch in November. Now, fans have the chance to align themselves with a sportsbook backed by the trusted ESPN brand, offering an unparalleled experience in the world of sports betting.”

Separately, at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media and Telecom Conference last week, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said: “We’re in about 50% of the US population after North Carolina launches for online sportsbook, which, in five years, is incredibly fast to get to half the population – much faster honestly than I think most thought it would be.”

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