Legal Updates for Sportsbook & App Launch in North Carolina

By: | February 1st, 2024

Photo by Utsman Media on Unsplash

Sports betting has been legal in the great state of North Carolina since 2019, albeit to a limited audience. Recent legal changes are opening the pastime up to everyone in the state above the age of 21, though. 

For much of the past five years, state law limited sports betting to physical locations at a number of Native American tribal casinos, but Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina state legislature cooperated to pass House Bill (HB) 347 in 2023, paving the way for full legalization of sports betting.

HB 347 went into effect at the start of January when the new legislative year began, sparking a one-year period in which gambling regulatory agencies will certify the various sports betting sites for launch.

What Happens Next?

Sportsbooks have to jump through a number of hoops before they can get certified, and the process doesn’t happen overnight. First things first, sportsbooks have to find an in-state partner, whether it’s the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Hurricanes, or any one of the car racing or golf tournament hosts that call North Carolina home. That could put a natural cap on the number of sportsbooks operating, as there are only so many professional sports teams and events operating in the state, and it also helps stimulate the state economy through the ensuing endorsement deals. 

Beyond that, HB 347 requires sportsbooks to pay a $1 million fee for each of the five years their betting license lasts. It’s a much simpler process in North Carolina than in most other states, but it’ll still take some time for the books to receive their operators’ licenses.

As things stand right now, the earliest launch date for mobile sports betting in the Tar Heel State is March 11, just a few days before the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments begin. 

That’s no accident. March Madness is one of the biggest sporting events of the year in the United States, and the big dance’s ability to draw fans who otherwise don’t watch sports makes it a perfect opportunity to kick off the betting season: think of the people in your place of work who never watch sports but still make sure to fill out a bracket ahead of the tournament.

Promo Codes: Their Economic Impact and Regulation

In a state like North Carolina where college hoops reign supreme, the economic impact of the tournament seems to grow exponentially. Whether you’re pulling for the Tar Heels, the Blue Devils, or a comparative underdog like NC State or Wake Forest, college allegiances run deep… and the prospect of winning money with an onboarding promo code at these North Carolina Sportsbooks makes it even more tempting to get in on the action.

Those promos have created a major sticking point in the legalization process for many states, and North Carolina was no different. In the early days of legal sports betting, bookies were free to write off promotions like risk-free bets and deposit matches as business losses. 

That meant they’d get a financial windfall no matter what: if a customer won their bet, the sportsbooks could write it off as a tax deduction, while a losing customer meant the books could pocket the money.

The states soon got wise to the practice, though, and one of HB 347’s stipulations says that sportsbooks can only write off promotional losses for their first 12 months of operation. That will give them some time to get off the ground, but soon enough the state government will be able to collect their full share when Tax Day rolls around.

All About Taxes

Then comes one of the most important considerations for sportsbooks and sports bettors alike. In North Carolina, betting operators have to pay an 18 percent tax on their adjusted gross revenue.

The average person, on the other hand, is taxed at a flat rate of 5.25 percent of their winnings: that’s different from many other states, which adjust their rates based on income bracket—and a little bit steeper than the 4.75 percent flat rate on other forms of income.

Unfortunately, state taxes aren’t the only levy that winning bettors have to take into account. Federal law sets their flat rate for gambling revenue at 24 percent, so you’ll have to set aside roughly one-third of your winnings each year: most sportsbooks don’t deduct taxes automatically.

Of course, tax news isn’t all bad. No one wants to lose money when they bet, but if you do end up in the hole for a year’s worth of bets, you can write off your gambling losses as a tax break. The money you lose is still gone forever, so don’t bet wildly, but it’s a good idea to keep careful track of your wins and losses so that you can maximize your financial gain at the end of the year. 


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