Apr 18, 2024 - Sports

How North Carolina's gamble on sports betting is paying off

Light Rail with a Draft Kings ad moves toward Uptown Charlotte.

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

North Carolina burst out of the gate during its first month of legal mobile sports betting — with a total bet of $659.3 million between March 11-31, according to data from the North Carolina State Lottery Commission.

Why it matters: North Carolinians embraced mobile sports betting in March. Time will tell if its novelty wears off, UNC Charlotte economics professor Craig Depken tells Axios.

By the numbers: Promotional wagers from sportsbooks accounted for $202.6 million of the total $659.3 million bet.

  • Total won: $590.8 million.
  • North Carolinians lost about $66.5 million (considering the total amount of bets placed, won and canceled). North Carolina taxes this amount, which is known as gross wagering revenue, by 18%.

Catch up quick: Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347: Sports Wagering/Horse Racing Wagering into law last June. People could begin gambling on their phones starting March 11 at noon, just in time for March Madness.

Between the lines: It's difficult to compare North Carolina to other states where mobile sports betting is legal just yet. North Carolina's data doesn't account for all of March.

  • Plus, neighboring Virginia hasn't released its March data yet (Virginia reported $540.1 million in gross sports gaming revenues from mobile operators for February).
  • At least a year's worth of North Carolina data needs to be available to really analyze it, Depken says.

What we're watching: After a strong start, things may slow down until the NFL returns this fall, Depken says. The summer Olympic games in Paris could create a slight uptick in bets, though.

  • Another component to consider is how much of a factor promotional bets will be going forward and if the "free money" will hook sportsbook users.
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