5/14 FOREVER: North Carolina could have legal online sports betting as early as this summer

With the state Senate having passed a bill that would legalize online sports betting and the House likely to ratify, North Carolina could be fully legal this summer.

North Carolinian and Dimers.com contributor Ross Lancaster took a trip to one of the Tar Heel State's two brick-and-mortar sportsbooks to take in the scene.

During Game 1 of the second-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series between the Hurricanes and NY Rangers on May 18, I couldn’t help but notice one of the on-ice ads in the corners was for Betway.

Four years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in the landmark New Jersey vs. NCAA case, an ad for an online sportsbook on the playing surface during a pro sports game isn't significant, by itself, in 2022.

But what was curious about the ad was that the game was being played in North Carolina, a state where online betting isn’t currently allowed and where Betway doesn’t operate. But sports betting isn’t totally banned in the Tar Heel State, either.

More than 30 states currently have some form of legalized sports betting, and more are being added to that list every month. And while the three biggest states — California, Texas, and Florida – currently don’t allow sports betting, many other states with a sizeable population — including No. 4 New York, No.5 Pennsylvania, and No. 6 Illinois — do.

For most legalized states, both online and retail options are available for bettors. But several only allow retail bets, with the books advertised throughout the spring on NBA and NHL Playoff telecasts not yet allowed to offer their full, online-based promotions.

North Carolina: One of the Major States Without Online Sports Betting

The largest of these retail-only states is North Carolina. As of the 2020 Census, The population is over 10 million for the first time, making North Carolina the ninth-largest state in the union.

North Carolina splits its three pro sports teams among two media markets — Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. The Hornets, Hurricanes, and Panthers have all been around a generation or longer, meaning a sizable part of the population of the state has never known a North Carolina without major pro sports. 

NC Sports Betting State of Play

Retail betting is only permitted at the state’s two casinos owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, one in the town of Cherokee and the other in Murphy.

Each is in mountainous Western North Carolina, with Cherokee about an hour west of Asheville and Murphy just north of the sparsely populated North Carolina-Georgia border. Each is at a Harrah’s casino, and each has a Caesars Sportsbook.

The Harrah’s in Cherokee is closer to Atlanta than Charlotte, and the casino in Murphy is closer to Nashville than Greensboro.

If you live in Raleigh and want to place legal action at a retail book, you’re closer to MGM National Harbor in Maryland than Harrah’s in Cherokee.

Online Sports Betting Could Arrive for Summer 2022 in North Carolina

There’s a possible end in sight for retail-only betting in North Carolina, though. Last year, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill legalizing online betting, and now that bill is under consideration in the North Carolina House during a legislative session that started May 18 and will run at least through the end of June.

Gov. Roy Cooper supports the bill and says he will sign it into law if passed by the state House. Additionally, the Hornets, Panthers, Hurricanes, and Charlotte Motor Speedway all support the legislation.

Assuming the House bill maintains the support it currently has, and passes within the next month — and no major hangups occur with revenue or tax percentage concerns — North Carolina could begin taking online bets at the beginning of the NFL season, or at the latest a few weeks into it.

The Betting Experience at Caesars Sportsbook at Harrah's Cherokee

On May 19, after almost a year of living in the Charlotte area, I wanted to make the drive to check out the Caesars Sportsbook at Harrah’s Cherokee for myself. Once I got checked into my room and on the casino carpet I was already pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed a smoke-free floor experience on the floor.

Then, upon getting to the sportsbook, I was taken aback at how spacious it was and how many seats there were. I’ve been to the “actual” Caesars Sportsbook in Las Vegas and this book was as nice as that.

And while they’re nothing extremely new and were around during my last retail sportsbook outing in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on Kentucky Derby Day 2021, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed placing bets at a self-service kiosk for both convenience and the chance to place in-game action (which I try to be conservative about).

Weekday afternoons during the spring can be hit-or-miss for sports viewing, but this Thursday was a great day to make the drive. The first round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, getaway day baseball, and crucial afternoon Premier League games from the penultimate day of the season made it an enjoyable day several hours before that evening’s NHL and NBA playoff games started. 

Being in the sportsbook a majority of the afternoon leading into the evening also reminded me of the thrill of getting to see big-game lines change and rationalizing whether to bet them – for better or worse.

As it became clear that Al Horford would play and Marcus Smart was likely to play, the line at Caesars Sportsbook shifted from Heat -2.5 down to -1. I chose…poorly.

But my other bet of the playoff slate between basketball and hockey was much more thrilling. I took the Lightning ML against the Panthers in a Game 2 – a risky proposition in a series that was 1-0 to the road team, but one I was excited to take for value given how shaky Florida’s amazing regular-season offense had looked in the playoffs to that point.

I was prepared for a white-knuckle OT when a standard offensive zone dump in with 10 seconds left suddenly became an insane backhand pass behind the net from Nikita Kucherov to Ross Colton for a last-second winner.

There are a few futures bets that will determine if I came out ahead from the afternoon and evening — bless Caesars Sportsbook for having Aussie Rules action, by the way — but the experience was about the best I can remember having at a sportsbook – rivaled only by the legendary Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas. 

Regardless of how soon online betting becomes available – or if I’m just craving the sportsbook experience, I’m glad that Caesars Sportsbook at Harrah’s will be a great option for betting a few hours down the road.

Why not celebrate 5/14 Forever by securing yourself 5 $100 risk-free bets from PointsBet? Claim them ➡️ here ⬅️.

 

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