Legal Online Sports Betting Hanging in Balance in North Carolina

Carolina Panthers NFL Draft
Carolina Panthers fan Dari McBride, dressed as a showgirl, attends round two of the 2022 NFL Draft. David Becker/Getty Images/AFP

Online sports betting could be legalized in North Carolina soon. But things are getting dicey. Top Sportsbooks would love to operate in North Carolina.

Until now, persisting legal hurdles have deterred them from gaining legal entry into this state. The legalization of online sports betting is the current issue.

A pressing deadline that is coming very soon is turning this issue from a seeming certainty to an increasingly uncertain one.

The worry is not so much whether online sports betting will be legalized. Instead, the worry is if it will become a reality in 2022.

It will be too late to bet on this year’s NBA Finals. But North Carolina bettors could get to bet on their Carolina Panthers, their North Carolina Tar Heels, and on other Fall and Winter sports.

North Carolina Status Quo

Right now, sports betting is legal in North Carolina. In 2019, sports betting in North Carolina became legal to engage in on tribal lands.

Consequently, tribal casinos opened in the state, thus giving bettors in North Carolina a retail sports betting option.

North Carolina Has Restrictions

This limitation on sports betting is an unfortunate reality that North Carolina has in common with many other states including other states in the South.

It would be great if North Carolina can end the current restrictions by legal means.

What Needs to Happen?

North Carolina needs to legalize online sports betting, and it needs to do so soon because the legislative session deadline is June 30.

At the start of the legislation session, which was on May 18, things were looking good for the legalization of online sports betting.


The relevant item of legislation, SB 688, had support. It passed through the Senate, and it passed through one of the state House committees.

However, nothing has happened since then.  Two more House committees plus the state House floor still need to pass the bill.

Persisting Disagreements

The key issue is basically reducible to a matter of wording. Some language on the bill needs to be amended and agreed upon before it can make further progress.

More concretely, some politicians want to raise the tax rate.  This is an issue that, throughout the country, has plagued many discussions about the legalization of sports betting.

Tax Rate Raise

It’s an important issue because it concerns the revenue that the state can garner from sportsbook operations.

A higher tax rate may hamstring sportsbooks, although a lower one may guarantee less revenue for the state to use as it pleases.

Sportsbook Outlook

Of the sportsbooks that could gain legal online entry into the North Carolina betting landscape, Caesars looks like a promising candidate because it already has a strong retail presence in the state.

BetMGM also looks like another likely candidate because it is already operational in neighboring Virginia and Tennessee.