A North Carolina pro team is on the board in terms of partnering with a legal sports betting operator.
On Friday, the Charlotte Hornets announced a deal to make bet365 the official sportsbook of the NBA franchise, marking the first team to do so in the Tar Heel State.
Sports betting was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper in June, and wagering becomes legal on January 8, 2024. The Hornets’ partnership with bet365 goes into effect immediately.
Branding and signage, including a courtside logo, will be present inside Spectrum Center in time for Friday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Since the day Governor Cooper signed sports wagering into law at Spectrum Center in June, we sought a partner that would help us provide our fans with new, additional opportunities to engage with their favorite sports teams. We are confident that bet365 is a great fit with our organization and can help us do that.”
- Jacob Gallagher, Hornets Sports & Entertainment CVO
The Hornets became the fifth pro sports franchise in the U.S. to partner with the U.K.-based sports betting operator. The Washington Commanders of the NFL, along with the MLB's Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Guardians, as well as the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, also have affiliations with bet365.
"Everyone at bet365 is thrilled to partner with the Hornets as we launch our iconic sports betting brand in North Carolina," expressed a bet365 spokesperson. "The Hornets' rich and dynamic history is deeply rooted in the Queen City community, and we're abuzz to become part of their exciting future," the spokesperson added.
Bet365’s deal with the Hornets means it’ll be one of the initial sportsbooks licensed in North Carolina when wagering goes live. The sportsbook, which has 90 million customers worldwide, already operates in Colorado, Ohio, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia, and Iowa.
Sports betting in N.C.
The collaboration between Charlotte and bet365 marks the initial stage, with the potential for more partnerships as professional teams are now allowed to establish sportsbook deals. Additionally, eight North Carolina venues, including the Spectrum Center, are set to host physical sportsbooks.
It could be some time, though, before residents can begin wagering online or at a retail sportsbook inside a stadium, race track, arena, or golf course. The North Carolina Lottery Commission said earlier this week that sports betting won’t go live on January 8 because necessary approvals likely won’t be approved by then.
The N.C. sports betting committee is still in the process of reviewing and approving rules and regulations. The licensing process has yet to open in the Tar Heel State.
The state law forces sports betting to be in place by June 15, 2024. Being up and running for March Madness in a basketball-centric state is a reasonable goal.
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