May 17, 2024 - Business

North Carolina surpasses $1B wagered since mobile sports betting became legal in March

A sports betting ad on a sign in Uptown with the skyline in the backdrop.

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

North Carolina surpassed $1 billion in legal mobile sports bets in less than two months, according to the latest data from the North Carolina State Lottery Commission.

Why it matters: The novelty of legal sports betting, which went live on March 11, doesn't seem to have worn off just yet.

By the numbers: The total bet in North Carolina between March 11-31 was $659.3 million. It was $648.9 million between April 1-30.

  • The total won in March was $590.8 million and $538.4 million in April.
  • In April, North Carolinians lost roughly $105.3 million (considering the total amount of bets placed, won and canceled).
  • That amount is known as gross wagering revenue, and North Carolina taxes it by 18%, meaning the state revenue for April from legal mobile sports betting was around $18.9 million (it was about $11.9 million in March, bringing the total thus far to roughly $30.8 million).

What they're saying: The state is tracking to generate well over $100 million in tax revenue for its first year and that number is only going to grow, Elon University sport management professor Bill Squadron tells Axios.

What we're watching: Sportsbooks have had ads plastered across billboard and social media platforms to attract new customers, offering "free money" to entice users.

  • Promotional bets from sportsbooks accounted for $202.6 million of the total $659.3 million bet in March, and dropped in April ($79.7 million of the $648.9 million bet).
  • Consumers bet $569.3 million of their own money in April, which is called "paid wagering revenue." In March, that number was $456.7 million.
  • A lot of people took advantage of promo offers, Squadron says.

The bottom line: While we have the first full month of data, it's not enough to determine the trajectory of legal mobile sports betting in North Carolina, but Squadron expects the state to remain an active market.

  • At least a year's worth of data is necessary to properly analyze where things stand, UNC Charlotte economics professor Craig Depken told Axios.

Flashback: Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347: Sports Wagering/Horse Racing Wagering into law in June 2023, but people had to wait until March to begin legally betting on electronic devices. It took off right before March Madness, which saw several Carolina schools make deep runs in the tournament.

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