One of the most attractive partnerships for a potential legal sportsbook in North Carolina is now off the market. Fanatics Betting and Gaming has landed a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes which could lead to both an online and physical Fanatics-branded sportsbook in the state.
Both opportunities are still mere possibilities at this point as there are pending regulatory matters. For that reason, a timeline for either a Fanatics online or physical sportsbook taking bets from North Carolinians remains uncertain.
Fanatics takes its shift in North Carolina
According to Pat Evans of Legal Sports Report and confirmed in a news release on Jan. 11, Fanatics and the Hurricanes have agreed to a joint operation regarding legal gambling on sports in North Carolina. North Carolina law requires hopeful commercial sportsbook operators to partner with a professional sports organization or a racetrack in the state.
“The Hurricanes are thrilled to welcome Fanatics as our Official Sports Betting Partner,” Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell said in the release. “Fanatics Sportsbook will bring a user-friendly experience for North Carolinians to wager on sports responsibly, and we’re proud to partner with them on this endeavor.”
Pending regulatory approval, the partnership means the Fanatics Sportsbook app should be available for North Carolinians. Additionally, Brian Murphy of WRAL reports that the Hurricanes are buying Backyard Bistro, a restaurant near PNC Arena.
That venue will host a physical sportsbook, likely to bear the Fanatics brand thanks to this deal. While no other details of the partnership are yet official, there are standard components that Hurricanes fans should expect.
Those include Fanatics activations and signage during Hurricanes games at PNC Arena. In addition, Hurricanes’ digital and media properties will likely feature advertisements for Fanatics as well.
It represents a stellar opportunity for Fanatics as the Hurricanes are among the most prominent sports entertainment properties in North Carolina. Several more opportunities remain for Fanatics’ competitors.
Many of them have already found their way into the state, however.
Fanatics could enter a competitive sports betting market
Should Fanatics receive regulatory approval to operate its sportsbook in North Carolina, it may be vying for attention alongside some of the other biggest names in the industry. Three other online gambling companies have already announced their North Carolina partnerships:
- Bet365 — Charlotte Hornets
- ESPN Bet — Quail Hollow Club
- FanDuel — PGA Tour
Bill King of Sports Business Journal has reported that DraftKings will partner with NASCAR while BetMGM plans to team up with two North Carolina racetracks. However, none of the allegedly involved parties have yet confirmed those claims.
Caesars already had a presence in North Carolina via its partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who operate two casinos within the borders of North Carolina.
Counting the rumored partners for BetMGM and DraftKings, there are seven more potential land-based partners in North Carolina for an online sports betting operator to work with. They include:
- Carolina Panthers
- Charlotte FC
- Charlotte Motor Speedway
- North Carolina Courage
- North Wilkesboro Speedway
- Sedgefield Country Club
Sportsbook brands not yet connected to any North Carolina partner include BetRivers, Betway, and Circa Sports. To date, none of them have publicly expressed interest in entering North Carolina.
A deadline to make a move in that direction is quickly approaching.
North Carolinians could be fanatical about March Madness betting
The North Carolina Lottery Commission recently established a deadline for sports betting license applications of Dec. 27, 2023. While it may consider applications past that date, that’s the deadline for applicants who want to receive consideration for approval to take bets at the first opportunity.
With this partnership in place, Fanatics is likely to be among those to apply before the deadline. That could mean that Fanatics will be among the first legal online sportsbooks to launch in North Carolina. Fanatics Sportsbook on Thursday launched in Vermont, the 10th state it is live in.
“We are excited to have the Carolina Hurricanes as our market access partner in North Carolina,” Ari Borod, chief business officer for Fanatics Betting and Gaming, said in the release. “We are working with one of the most talented professional sports organizations that knows how to grow a sports business by putting a competitive product out on the ice. We look forward to partnering with the organization to bring sports fans in North Carolina a sports betting product that meets the expectations of such a passionate fanbase.”
A timeline for when licensed apps may start taking bets is still unofficial. However, apps could launch in time for the 2024 NCAA D1 men’s and women’s basketball national championship tournaments.
Should that prove the case, March will have a new element to it in North Carolina in 2024. North Carolina residents could have a chance to become fanatical about their options for legal online gambling.