North Carolina Receives Seven Online Sports Betting License Applications

USA Legal Betting


  • License applicants included Bet365, BetMGM, DraftKings, ESPN Bet, Fanatics, FanDuel, and Underdog Fantasy
  • The commission has 60 days to review all applications with a 10-day revision period
  • The state estimates it will generate $64.4 million in tax funding during the first fiscal year

The Sports Betting Committee of the North Carolina Lottery Commission is ready to review seven applications for online sports betting operators’ licenses during a meeting on Thursday. 

North Carolina legalized the expansion to online sports betting in 2023 with a law that will go into effect on Jan. 8. The state expects to launch the newly-expanded market by June 14 but has not provided an official date, though that date is not expected to fall before the Super Bowl.

The full commission meets next week. Gov. Roy Cooper hopes the commission licenses select operators and launches the market before March Madness begins.

Opening up the market

Of the more than a dozen operators that asked for license applications, seven—Bet365, BetMGM, DraftKings, ESPN Bet, Fanatics, FanDuel, and Underdog Fantasy, returned them by a Dec. 27 deadline.

Caesars sportsbook also applied for a service provider license in hopes of securing a tribal sports betting license. It already has its foot in the door since it operates two Harrah’s casinos in the western part of the state.

The commission has no more than 60 days to review each application. A chairwoman said that applications can run up to 1,000 pages and may be amended inside a 10-day window. 

As is the case in many other states, interested sportsbook operators need to secure partnerships with local brands. But instead of forging partnerships with casinos or betting lounges, they must join forces with local professional sports teams or facilities (of which there are 11).

Four of the seven applicants already secured such partnerships. Bet365 struck a deal with the Charlotte Hornets; ESPN Bet is teaming up with Quail Hollow Club, a Charlotte golf course; FanDuel will be aligned with the PGA of America; and Fanatics will do business with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Part of the reason that North Carolina has not provided an official launch date for online sportsbooks is because of the vetting process they must undergo when reviewing license applications. They also recently expanded the commission after the state legalized the expansion in June and are still settling into their new structure.

Finding the right timeline 

Missing out on the Super Bowl is a big miss for North Carolina. Sportsbooks’ highest period of activity often comes during the build-up to the NFL’s crowning event, with an estimated 50+ million Americans wagering more than $16 billion on last year’s championship game.

With a Super Bowl launch seeming to be an impossibility, Gov. Cooper is pushing the committee to have the market up and running by March Madness. 

“The goal is to get it out there before March Madness,” Cooper said on Ovies + Giglio. “No guarantee that that’s the case, but that is the goal. They’re working on it as fast as they can. I had them all in the room over there the other day pushing them saying we’ve got to get this done.”

Lawmakers estimate that the 18% tax rate will help sportsbooks generate $64.4 million in public funding next fiscal year. The state will be able to jump-start its progress if it launches its market in time for marquee events such as March Madness.

Looking at the operators that applied for licensing, all of the “Big Four” (DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars) were unsurprisingly present. Joining them were the newly-launched ESPN Bet, the recently-expanded Fanatics, and the ambitious Underdog.

Underdog has focused primarily on Fantasy Sports but is interested in expanding into traditional sports wagering.

Meanwhile, Fanatics is going all-in on growing in sports betting by acquiring various assets and offering never-before-seen options, and ESPN Bet aims to achieve a 10% market share within three years of operation.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.