Sports betting in North Carolina has been legal for more than a year – there’s just no way to legally place a bet in the state.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed SB 154 into law in July 2019. The bill lets the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operate sportsbooks at their two casinos.
That isn’t the only time Cooper needs to sign off on sports betting though. The new law required an amended tribal compact that included NC sports betting details approved first by Cooper and then by the Department of the Interior.
After delays from the coronavirus pandemic, the Cherokee’s Tribal Council finally approved those necessary amendments last week, according to the Cherokee One Feather.
Despite the step forward, it looks like sports betting in North Carolina has a better chance of its first major event being March Madness than the Super Bowl.
North Carolina sports betting timeline
Without Cooper’s signature on the amended tribal compact, it’s a bit difficult to predict when sports betting could start in North Carolina. There’s no indication from Cooper’s office when that signature might come, regional VP of marketing for Harrah’s Cherokee Brian Saunooke told LSR.
Whenever that signature does come, another waiting game begins. The Department of the Interior has a 45-day window to approve the changes to the compact.
There’s been no indication that timeframe will be shortened, Saunooke added. The compact will be official once published in the Federal Register.
Sportsbooks ready to go
The construction of both sportsbooks at the two casinos is complete, Saunooke confirmed. Some of the key employees for the operations have also been identified already.
Saunooke declined to discuss who will supply the Cherokee with sports betting. It might not be that big of a secret, though.
The Cherokee operate their two casinos under a licensing agreement for the Harrah’s brand with Caesars. Caesars recently agreed to purchase William Hill, which will operate sports betting at all Caesars properties.
The sportsbooks are also simply known as The Book, which is the standard name for Caesars-operated books across the company’s portfolio.
No mobile sports betting in North Carolina
Unfortunately for many in North Carolina, placing a bet won’t be that easy.
The two Harrah’s Cherokee locations are a bit out of the way from the state’s major cities. Both casinos are located on the southwestern edge of the state, meaning it might be easier for some to take advantage of mobile sports betting in Tennessee than it would be to drive to either casino.
Those in the northern part of North Carolina, meanwhile, could do their sports betting in Virginia. The state is prepared to license and launch its mobile sports betting industry in January.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, North Carolina, is about two hours south of Knoxville, Tennessee and three hours from Charlotte. Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River in Murphy, NC, is right about two and a half hours south of Knoxville and two hours north of Atlanta, Georgia.