Efforts to legalize online sports betting in North Carolina crashed and burnt last month by the smallest of margins.
Sportsbook operations are now under the spotlight because a more significant effort to engage their consumer base may have successfully pushed the final result across the finish line.
DraftKings Late Push: At Least They Tried
DraftKings sent their NC customers an e-mail on June 26 – asking them to support mobile sports betting in the state.
Unfortunately, lawmakers had already destroyed the bill four days earlier as voting was already complete.
The Draftkings E-Mail Said:
“Have you heard? Lawmakers in North Carolina could bring mobile sports betting to the Tar Heel State! But it won’t happen unless they hear from fans like you NOW”
“We’re just a couple of months away from another football season, and North Carolina still doesn’t have mobile sports betting. Meanwhile, sports fans in states across the country, including Virginia and Tennessee, have had access to full mobile sports betting for a while.”
“That means North Carolina continues to leave millions of dollars on the table by not allowing mobile sports betting in the state. Instead, that money will go to illegal operators and other states with legal mobile betting.”
“It’s time to act. Tell your North Carolina lawmakers that you want mobile sports betting in North Carolina NOW!
Despite sending the e-mail out shy of the deadline, DraftKings can find solace in knowing they tried. However, the other major sportsbooks were absent from the push and didn’t send their customers an e-mail at all.
The North Carolina Senate Bill 688 failed by a mere vote, 51-50.
Dennis Justice, an industry observer, and NC House candidate, said: “Any fan involvement could have swayed just enough votes to pass the bill. E-Mails cost next to nothing. Unforgivable.”
Retail sports betting locations are present in NC, as Caesars Sportsbook is featured at two tribal-owned Harrah casinos.
An Amateur Mistake by Lobbyists
Sports betting in NC could have failed with or without the support of sportsbooks.
Justice duly noted how industry lobbyists aren’t prepared to argue the local politics in NC, especially the argument surrounding in-state college wagering.
“Not understanding how politics work in each state will hurt the cause,” Justice commented.
Sportsbooks Need to Learn From Past Mistakes
It wasn’t the first time, and we shouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t the last time US sportsbooks fail in their missed opportunities to expand.
Learning from the past hasn’t been the motto. In January 2022, DraftKings and FanDuel collected 900,000 signatures to earn a place on the Florida sports betting ballot. But again, the timing was off, as operators didn’t give the state enough time to verify them.
As the race for legalized sports betting in California heats up, sportsbooks must remain diligent in expanding sports betting in other states by learning from past mistakes.
Will the industry repeat history, or can they finally give lawmakers a run for their money?