North Carolina's first month of Sports Betting: Stats, Revenue & Allocations

Apr 18, 2024

North Carolina joined the growing wave of legalized online sports betting on March 11, 2024, and the results from the first few weeks are staggering. The Tar Heel state seems to have picked an ideal time for the launch of online sports betting right before March Madness. With Duke, UNC, and NC State in the tournament, thousands of North Carolina residents were able to bet on their favorite college basketball team from the comforts of their homes.

In total, more than $659 million was wagered online from March 11 to the end of the month in North Carolina, according to the first report from the North Carolina State Lottery Commission. Between March Madness, the start of the MLB season, the NBA and NHL, North Carolina residents took full advantage of sports betting now being at their fingertips. 

NC’s first monthly sports betting report highlights

North Carolina was expected to be a big launch for online sports betting, and the numbers surpassed all expectations, including those of Representative Jason Saine. The budget writer and top sponsor of legislation to legalize mobile sports betting said after seeing the numbers from the first month, “It's going to be a bigger revenue source than maybe even I imagined” (WRAL News). In just the first 12 hours, North Carolina residents wagered $11.6 million. That turned into more than $116.8 million wagered in the first week (LSR). 

The numbers continued to grow as March Madness began in the final two weeks of the month, and in total, more than $659 million was wagered online in March. Of that total, over $456 million came from residents using their own money to gamble. Over $202 million came from individuals using promotional offers. 

Those in the Tar Heel state were paid out more than $590 million in winnings in March. A large portion of that came from March Madness, which was the top sporting event during the month. In fact, sports betting activity was up 56% in the state during the first and second rounds of the tournament compared to the same four-day period in the week prior.

That means the gross wagering revenue for sportsbook operators was a little over $66 million. By law, the operators must pay an 18% tax to the state, which means North Carolina earned almost $12 million in roughly three weeks of online sports betting being legal (WRAL News). Eight sportsbooks are available to use online in North Carolina: ESPN BET, DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, Fanatics, bet365, Underdog and Caesars Sportsbook. Unfortunately, the report does not identify how much was wagered at each sportsbook in March. 

In comparison to other states, the handle from North Carolina’s online launch was very big. Northern neighbor Virginia legalized online gambling in February 2021 before the Super Bowl, and the state recorded $540 million wagered in the first month (WRAL News). North Carolina had over $100 million more wagered in its first three weeks, which of course did not include the always-heavily-bet Super Bowl.

North Carolina hasn’t been the only state to legalize online sports betting just in time for March Madness. In March 2023, Massachusetts flipped legal ahead of the tournament, and the Bay State announced that $548.2 million was wagered in the first month (LSR). Comparing the two, it’s therefore safe to say North Carolina had a very strong first three weeks of legalized online sports betting.

North Carolina’s Sports Betting Tax Allocations

As mentioned above, 18% of the money that sportsbooks earn from online sports betting must be paid to the state of North Carolina as a tax. In March, that meant the state made almost $12 million from the tax. Legal Sports Review predicts that the Tar Heel state could earn up to $65 million from the tax in the first 12 months (LSR), and even that may be conservative.

Once the state receives the tax, it is allocated to several different areas. Those allocations include “$2 million to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction education and treatment programs, $1 million to North Carolina Amateur Sports, $1 million to the North Carolina Youth Outdoor Engagement Commission and up to $300,000 to the athletic departments at 13 state universities.” If there is tax revenue left over, 20% will go to the state’s collegiate athletic departments, 30% to the North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund, and then the remaining 50% to the state's general fund.

Responsible Gaming in North Carolina

If we’ve learned anything from other previous state launches, it’s that positive headlines about huge handle and gaming revenues can mask the potential beginning of issues that legalized online sports betting can cause. Florida saw a 138% increase in calls and texts to the state’s gambling addiction hotline just a month after its first online sportsbook went live. 

Therefore, it’s critical to focus on the fact that specialized resources are available for North Carolina residents who are interested in gambling education, looking to talk to a trained professional, or need gambling addiction treatment and recovery services. If you need (or someone you know needs) a break from sports betting, North Carolina offers a voluntary self-exclusion program that allows you to exclude yourself from sports wagering and sportsbook operators will use that information to freeze any existing accounts you own and not allow you to open any new accounts in the state.

It’s also important to learn and remember Responsible Gaming tips before placing any bets. Some of those tips include setting a sports betting budget, wagering only what you can afford to lose, never chasing losses by gambling more, and avoiding betting when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Gambling Addiction Help and Treatment in North Carolina

In terms of resources available if gambling becomes a problem for you or someone you know, we are proud to announce that Birches Health is now live in North Carolina. Birches Health offers digital care options from a team of specially trained clinicians. Not only do the professionals have decades of experience, but they also offer tailored intake, custom treatment options and ongoing care for all patients. Plus, most individuals pay $0 out-of-pocket costs for Birches treatment. 

If you believe you or someone else could benefit from learning more about the Birches Health offerings, please call (833) 483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com to speak with a care specialist today.

Sources:

Reports | ncgaming.gov

North Carolina sports betting numbers for March are in. Here's how much was bet.

NC Sports Betting Regulators Release Initial Financials

Mobile NC Sports Betting Activity Spikes During March Madness

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