Sports Coalition Wants North Carolina Sports Betting Licenses

Written By Derek Helling on January 17, 2023
courage north carolina sports betting bill

Entities involved in sports entertainment in the Tar Heel State don’t just want to be the subjects of North Carolina sports betting. They want to be part and parcel of legal online gambling, should it come to the state.

A coalition of teams and venue operators in North Carolina is advocating for its members to be eligible for licenses to offer sports betting. The inclusion of such a provision might compromise gambling expansion in the state, however.

Teams submit North Carolina sports betting wishlist

According to Brian Murphy of WRAL, the coalition has eight members. They include the:

  1. Carolina Hurricanes
  2. Carolina Panthers
  3. Charlotte FC
  4. Charlotte Hornets
  6. Charlotte Motor Speedway
  7. North Carolina Courage
  8. PGA Tour

Under the terms of the proposal that the coalition supports, each member would get their license to operate online sportsbooks and perhaps physical sportsbooks as well. The proposal also includes granting four other licenses on a competitive bidding basis.

With such a license, operations like the Courage and Hurricanes could either build out their own sports betting platforms or contract with existing sportsbook operators to handle those duties on their behalf. The latter of those two options is more likely.

Between the proposed dozen opportunities, that would mean more than enough licenses to go around for all the major online sportsbook brands in the US. Because the sports entities would control 2/3 of the licenses, though, they could essentially control the cost of getting into North Carolina.

Hurricanes president Don Waddell told WRAL that control is pivotal to the coalition and said:

“It gives us a better opportunity to maximize the revenue. We can’t get money from gambling. We’re going to get money from sponsorship and if we do a restaurant or something like that. So this gives us a better opportunity to capitalize on the amount of money that these people are going to make.”

That’s part of why the proposal could get some pushback.

Why this proposal might not be a slam dunk

Last June, a similar bill nearly cleared the North Carolina legislature. That proposal did not feature allocating licenses to professional sports operations, though. For that reason, making such a change could upset the amount of legislative support sports betting got in 2022.

At the same time, these companies having more “skin in the game” in Raleigh could make them more active in lobbying for gambling expansion. Last October, the Hurricanes hosted an event for state legislators during which they advocated for sports betting legalization. More such events could be on the horizon.

Currently, the only way for North Carolinians to legally bet on sports is to visit a tribal casino in the state. Alternatively, they can cross state lines into either Tennessee or Virginia.

With the next legislative session starting Jan. 25, residents will get an idea of what bills will encompass soon. To get the support of North Carolina’s sports teams, such a bill will have to cut those teams in.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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