Sports Betting Coming To North Carolina ‘As Quickly As Possible’

Posted on February 8, 2021

North Carolina sports betting and horse wagering has been in the works for quite sometime now.

Sportsbooks have already been constructed within the state’s two Harrah’s Cherokee locations.

Now, the question is: how soon can these books take wagers?

A long time coming for North Carolina sports betting

Initial projections aimed for North Carolina sports betting to launch by the Super Bowl.

Now that the Big Game has come and gone, a specific launch date remains up in the air.

The process originally began back in July 2019 when Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill into law, in effect permitting sports and horse wagering within the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians‘ category of Class III games.

Most recently, Gov. Cooper signed an amended gaming compact with the tribe, furthering the effort’s progression.

The governor sent the compact to the US Department of the Interior, which initiated a 45-day public comment and approval period.

The endeavor has been no stranger to its share of roadblocks, however.

The major complications included regulatory requirements, internal control standards, and pandemic-related setbacks.

Another significant holdup was reportedly the casino’s resistance to additional proposed restrictions on their operations and reporting.

North Carolina’s sports betting launch date remains in question

According to EBCI Chief Richard G. Sneed, the intent is to begin implementing sports betting at Cherokee’s two properties as quickly as possible.

The addition of sports betting and horse wagering will be a much-needed additional revenue stream for the casinos, which have been feeling the financial strain imposed by COVID-19.

Nonetheless, some final particulars must first fall into place before wagering sees the light of day.

Namely, the tribe does not have regulations for conducting sports. The NC legislature that passed the bill left discussion up to the tribe and governor to iron out.

They have only set forth a few directives as of now.

The compact specifies that the Certification Commission and the Compliance Committee will oversee sports and horse betting.

Moreover, the tribe must provide the Compliance Committee with a quarterly wagering report. All permitted wagering must also meet the National Indian Gaming Commission’s Class III Minimum Internal Control Standard.

Before Harrah’s designated sportsbooks can accept action, the governor and Certification Commission must approve geolocation and age identity verification procedures.

Additionally, all technology and equipment pertaining to sports and horse betting must go through a threefold certification process.

Both the Tribal Gaming Commission and Certification Commission, along with an independent third-party laboratory, must give their stamps of approval.

What will sports betting look like in the state?

Once the law moves forward, patrons can only wager on Harrah’s Cherokee tribal land. Wagering within any other part of North Carolina will still be off limits.

The compact only allows for in-person wagering. The law strictly prohibits online wagering.

A handful of other states operate similarly.

Arkansas, Delaware, New Mexico and New York all require players to wager in person.

And while Mississippi and Montana technically permit mobile wagering, it can only be done while inside a casino.

North Carolina’s bill permits wagering at two locations – Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River in Murphy and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee.

Since both of these locations are on the Western side of the state, the casino draws a significant amount of patrons from Tennessee.

Until agreements are ironed out between the state and tribe, North Carolina residents must continue their drive over to Tennessee in order to place a legal sports bet.

Photo by Associated Press
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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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