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North Carolina Legalizes Sports Betting at Tribal Casinos w/SB154

North Carolina Outline Map

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, signed a piece of legislation on July 26, 2019 that would bring legal sports betting to North Carolina. The fact that sports betting was legalized in North Carolina may not come as much of a surprise seeing as similar pieces of legislation are being passed across the country, but the way in which sports betting will exist is worth noting.

Roy CooperGovernor Roy Cooper Signed SB154,Legalizing Sports Betting at NC Tribal Casinos

Unlike Pennsylvania, for example, where sports bets can be placed at most brick and mortar casinos, North Carolina will only allow for sports bets to be placed in gambling facilities that are located on tribal, or Native American, land. Senate Bill 154’s short title is “Authorize Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands” and that title tells you almost everything you need to know. We will dig a bit deeper to fill you in on exactly where you can bet, when you can bet, and how you can bet below.

Where and How You Can Bet

Question Mark

Because there are currently only two Native American casinos in the state of North Carolina, those are the only two approved locations whereby folks can place wagers on sports. One of these casinos is located in central North Carolina, in Cherokee, whereas the second casino is located in Murphy, just north of the border with South Carolina.

Harrah's Cherokee CasinoHarrah's Cherokee Is One of Just Two Full-Fledged Casinos in North Carolina

Because this bill mandates that betting take place only at the aforementioned two casinos, neither mobile nor online betting on sports will not be available. In fact, until the State of North Carolina as a whole legalizes sports betting, we do not think mobile wagering will be considered. Needless to say, other real money internet gaming, like NC online poker, is probably many years away from being regulated by the state.

One way in which NC sports betting will be superior to that found in many other states is that residents will be able to bet on college athletics, even on teams that hail from The Tar Heel State. An amendment had been introduced to ban these types of wagers, but it failed. It's expected that a lot of the betting action in North Carolina will focus on Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

When Can You Bet?

Wall Calendar

Many of the other jurisdictions in the United States that have legalized sports betting have done so with the hope of allowing bets to be placed in time for the start of the upcoming NFL and NCAA football seasons. In North Carolina, however, such does not seem like it will come to fruition, though there is hope that betting will be live in time for college football bowl games and NFL playoffs.

Harrah’s owns and operates the state’s two casinos, and according to their regional vice president of marketing, Brian Saunooke, books are expected to open “…by late fall, football will be in full swing. That’s an exciting time for sports bettors in general. We will be looking at other sports as well. We expect to have a full offering similar to what you would have in other markets, like Las Vegas.”

State Senator Jim Davis, from Macon, championed SB154 and made it clear that the expansion of gambling in North Carolina was a direct result of the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to overrule a Federal ban on sports betting. In part, Davis applauded the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians when he said, “The Eastern Band have been extremely good stewards of the revenue generated from their gaming operations.”

Jim DavisState Senator Jim Davis (R) Sponsored the NC Sports Betting Bill

Speaking of revenue, it is expected that sports betting will bring in more than $1 million in tax revenue for the state of North Carolina. Though this is, by no means, a significant amount, you have to consider that tax revenue is being generated by only two facilities in the entire state.

Legislative History


SB154 was introduced in late February 2019 by its primary sponsor, State Senator Davis, and it passed in the North Carolina State Senate in April without too much trouble as the final tally came in with 43 senators voting in favor and only 7 opposing the measure. For the next few months, little to no action was taken on the bill. It wasn’t until the middle of July when SB154 was presented to the House and ultimately passed by a vote of 90-27. It then moved on to the desk of Governor Cooper on July 17, and he signed it into law on July 26.

The bill itself is just over a single page in length, meaning that it is one of the most succinct such bills passed in the United States. The reason for such a short bill is because the state of North Carolina did not really establish a new legal regime for sports betting; they simply added it to the list of approved gambling activities (all of which must take place on Native American lands).

Being that there is not much in the way of gambling outside of Native lands, the likelihood of North Carolina legalizing sports betting statewide, especially online, is something that does not seem too likely in the near future. With that being said, there is no saying what might happen next in the post-PASPA world we are currently living in.

North Carolina Has Legalized Sports Betting

Offshore Sites > NC Legal Sports Betting?

With just a couple of properties slated to begin offering sports betting in North Carolina, there's every likelihood that most residents of the state will find it inconvenient to go to one of them in person very often. Fortunately, though, there are already a number of online sportsbooks that serve the United States, including North Carolina.

There are no federal laws that criminalize the mere act of using these platforms as an ordinary bettor. You'd have to actually be involved in running the site to get into any legal trouble. At the state level, N.C. anti-gambling statutes are never enforced against online gamblers who just place their own bets privately at home.

To learn more about how you can start betting on sports over the internet, check out our guide to the top online sportsbooks USA bettors have access to. If casino gaming is more what you seek, then we've prepared a page about the best internet casino websites for Americans. Finally, for some exciting poker action, consult our in-depth article devoted to online poker in the United States.