North Carolina is a popular golf vacation destination. It's also home to some of the best college basketball in the country. But what it's not known for is its openness to gambling.
There are no commercial casinos in the Tar Heel State. Horse and dog racing are prohibited. And social gambling is acceptable with some restrictions.
However, with surrounding states possibly opening the doors to land-based sports betting venues, this conservative Bible Belt state may not be far behind.
State legislators are set to consider a proposed bill which would pave the way for legalizing sports betting on tribal lands. If the bill were to be approved, bettors would have the opportunity to wager on both professional and collegiate games through licensed sports books.
The proposal does not yet allow for mobile or online betting through these tribal venues, even though many North Carolina residents already enjoy betting online through top-ranked offshore sites like Bovada.
Betting Laws in North Carolina
More than 10 million people live in North Carolina, where the landscape ranges from Atlantic Ocean beaches to the Appalachian Mountains. Raleigh is the state capital and Charlotte is the largest city with a population of almost 900,000 residents.
North Carolina, whose motto is "First in Flight" to honor the Wright Brothers, is located in the southeastern United States. Its strict gambling laws are regulated at the state level.
- Tribal casino gambling
- Social gambling
- Charitable gambling
The minimum North Carolina gambling age is 21 years old for casino players, 18 years old for lottery players, and there is no minimum gambling age for bingo or raffles.
North Carolina has fought against any form of legalized gambling for a long time. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 opened the door for many states to build casinos on reservation land, but each tribe has to negotiate an agreement with their individual state governments.
Today, there are two casinos in North Carolina, and they are both run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee tribe — Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel. Both casinos, which are located in the western part of the state, offer electronic games, such as slot machines, as well as table games.
Harrah's Cherokee, which started a $250-million expansion in 2018, is the closest casino to Charlotte. It's about a three-hour drive to the state's largest city, but it's the same distance to Atlanta, which makes it attractive for those from Georgia looking for a gambling destination.
Both casinos are open 24 hours and the minimum gambling age is 21.
Horse and dog racing
Horse racing has always been outlawed in North Carolina, while greyhound racing had a brief run from 1948 to 1954.
The state had two greyhound tracks in Moyock and Morehead City, but the North Carolina Supreme Court shut both of them down amid allegations that special privileges were given to a private company. The state’s racing industry has been dormant ever since.
North Carolina was the very last state on the East Coast to legalize a lottery. They did so in 2005 — and only by the slimmest of voting margins as the issue divided lawmakers and the public alike. The first ticket didn’t sell until March 2006.
Today, the NC Education Lottery brings in almost $2 billion in revenue, with net proceeds going directly into the state's education fund. The lottery features scratch cards and many daily drawing games as well as multi-jurisdictional games such as Lucky for Life, Mega Millions and Powerball.
North Carolina Sports Betting Laws
Lawmakers have been active with sports betting legislation since the Supreme Court in May 2018 cleared the way by striking down a federal ban.
Several North Carolina lawmakers introduced legislation in 2018 to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports, but none got to a vote. In neighboring South Carolina, at least one sports betting bill was filed in the state legislature, but it did not reach a vote either.
A new bill was introduced in February 2019 by the state senator whose district includes the two North Carolina casinos. That proposal would allow sports wagering on tribal lands, creating a path to legal betting on professional and college sporting events at the two venues. It's the 30th state to introduce a sports betting bill in 2019.
"Eventually it’s going to hit North and South Carolina," David Tepper, the new owner of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, said of sports betting. "It has to, from a revenue standpoint."
None of North Carolina's neighbors have land-based sports books in operation just yet, but many — including Virginia and Tennessee — are considering their own sports betting proposals.
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North Carolina's Favorite Sports Teams
North Carolina is not just about the four major professional sports or college football and basketball. This is NASCAR country. And Charlotte is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which opened its doors for visitors to see the legends of stock car racing in May 2010.
Charlotte is also the hometown of the NFL's Carolina Panthers and NBA's Charlotte Hornets. The Panthers have won two conference championships in 14 seasons, while the Hornets have never won a division title.
The NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, who have won one Stanley Cup (2005-06), are based in Raleigh.
College sports teams grab their fair share of headlines in this state, especially with two basketball powerhouses in Duke and North Carolina. The Blue Devils call Durham home, while the Tar Heels' main campus is located in Chapel Hill. There's no bigger rivalry in the NCAA than these two teams, who have won a combined 11 national basketball championships.