North Carolina Posts $198M Handle in 1st Week of Online Sports Betting, Projects $594M for the Month

Tar Heel State's success in March Madness reflected in preliminary numbers from North Carolina sportsbooks.

Mar 27, 2024 • 16:21 ET • 4 min read
North Carolina
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Online sports betting is a big hit in the Tar Heel State. 

The North Carolina Lottery Commission released the first set of figures since the March 11 launch and projected a monthly handle of $594.36 million based on the first week of action.

“By all accounts, mobile sport wagering in North Carolina is off to a strong start,” said Sterl Carpenter, deputy executive director of gaming compliance and sports betting, during Wednesday’s meeting with the commission. “Some operators have said as much in interviews and other public comments.”

The Tar Heel State took in $198.1 million of wagers in the first week with revenue topping out at $42.69 million. More than $81 million in promotional bets were given out by sportsbook operators in the initial seven days. 

Bettors won $141.59 million in that first week.

“I do believe that has to do with NC State and North Carolina doing pretty well in the basketball tournaments,” Carpenter said.

The Wolfpack won the ACC tournament and they're joined by UNC and Duke as local teams that have advanced to the Sweet 16.

The commission’s report is based on aggregated estimates and could change following audits.  

What a day

The March 11 launch generated a handle of $23.9 million with revenue of $11.03 million. 

Online sports betting in North Carolina didn’t go live until noon, so that’s based on just the first 12 hours of wagering. The ACC men’s basketball tournament didn’t start until the next day. 

“In Tennessee’s first week (of sports betting in Nov. 2020), they handled $27 million,” Carpenter said. “We almost had $24 million on the first day.”

Bettors took advantage of more than $12.3 million in promos on March 11. 

“I think people liked the opportunity to wager in North Carolina on sports,” Carpenter said.

By comparison

How good a start is this for North Carolina? Carpenter was careful to define it when comparing the first week of action to other states. He said Virginia was “apples to oranges” because the Old Dominion State had just one mobile operator for its first 10 days. North Carolina launched eight online sportsbooks, including FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, bet365, Fanatics Sportsbook, and Underdog Sports. 

However, Carpenter told the commission that Massachusetts had a handle of $548 million in its first month, and even though North Carolina has a larger population, “it’s pretty equal.”

The Bay State’s sports betting operators have generated more than $6 billion worth of wagers and paid out nearly $120 million in taxes since March 2023. 

Paying the Piper

North Carolina was an extremely attractive market for sportsbook operators because of the state’s passion for sports.

“That made it a high priority for myself, the team, and obviously working with the state itself,” DraftKings CCO Jeremy Elbaum told Covers earlier this month. “It’s unique here in the sense of how big it is and how well-rounded it is.”

That spells lucrative tax revenue for Tar Heel State officials, and if the first week is any indication, they’re going to like what they’re getting. 

Carpenter cautioned using the 18% tax rate on operators to get a concise picture because the numbers can change and the N.C. Department of Revenue handles those matters, but the math shows that North Carolina potentially hauled in $7.6 million in the first week. 

With promos being offered less as time goes by, projections fall short of that initial big run, but as Carpenter pointed out, North Carolina legislators learned from other states to tax the gross revenue and not allow payments to the state to come with bonuses deducted. 

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