Hornets Mull Sportsbook in Spectrum Center; Hurricanes’ Retail Bet Shop Part of PNC Arena Rethink

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With North Carolina passing a sports betting bill in June, the Charlotte Hornets are in the process of deciding whether a planned sportsbook will be built within Spectrum Center or nearby as part of a $215-million renovation, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

The Carolina Hurricanes are making plans, too, as part of a broader refurbishment of PNC Arena.

These arenas are two of eight sports venues in the state, including the Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium and two NASCAR tracks, allowed to open sportsbooks when North Carolina sports betting apps launch.

Hornets president Fred Whitfield told CBJ that he has toured the FanDuel Sportsbook inside the Phoenix Suns’ Footprint Center but indicated it was premature to discuss where Charlotte would locate a sportsbook. Footprint Center and the Wizards’ Capital One Arena are the only two NBA arenas with full-time sportsbooks within their walls.

The North Carolina sports betting law was signed into existence by Gov. Roy Cooper in a ceremony at Spectrum Center.

North Carolina Franchises Seek to Reap Reward of Lobbying Efforts

Wherever the location, the licensed sportsbook partner figures not to be FanDuel — the national market leader according to the Gaming Today sports betting revenue tracker — because of the team’s tangible ties to competitor DraftKings. Michael Jordan, who is in the process of selling his majority stake in the Hornets but will remain a minority owner, is an investor and special advisor with DraftKings.

“As we’ve thought through our arena renovation process, our practice facility, all the things we associate with how we anticipate our building looking for years to come, this has certainly been in the back of our minds even though we haven’t made any decisions yet,” Whitfield told CBJ.

While the renovation is being funded with tax dollars, the sportsbook would be built by the team, according to the CBJ report.

North Carolina’s pro sports properties lobbied vigorously to gain the right to affiliate with sports betting companies as the state was in the legalization process.

“We really fought hard to have that included — not just us, but the other sports venues, to be able to have a sportsbook either in our building or in very close proximity,” Whitfield said.

Hurricanes Also Exploring Sportsbook Possibilities

Carolina owner Tom Dundon began publically pining for a PNC Arena sportsbook two years ago. General manager and arena president Don Waddell indicated the team is moving swiftly to make that happen.

The team is looking for a sports betting partner before deciding where to build a retail location. This will coincide with a planned redevelopment of the area around the arena.

“We want to make this just a destination place, make it a place people want to go to have fun regardless of what’s going on in the arena, the attraction to the area that, you know, people want to be here,” Waddell said. “If you’re going to do it, you got to do it right. You only open once. So once we open that thing, once we get by a temporary location, open a permanent location, we want to make sure it’s state of the art.”

Industry experts agree that retail sportsbooks in sports venues present a unique opportunity to turn fans into bettors.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to capture new sports fans and turn them into a sports bettor,” Todd Sims, VP of Sales for the Americas at SuzoHapp said at SBC Summit North America. “There’s no better time than when you go into an arena when you have all the excitement.  It might be your first time going to a sporting event and that’s a golden opportunity to capture a new customer.”

Eight NC Sportsbooks Slated for Pro Venues

Under North Carolina’s sports betting law, pro sports facilities with a capacity of at least 17,000 are eligible to house a sportsbook. These are the venues that fit that criteria.

  • Bank of America Stadium (Panthers, NFL)
  • Spectrum Center (Hornets, NBA)
  • PNC Arena (Hurricanes, NHL)
  • Charlotte Motor Speedway (NASCAR)
  • North Wilkesboro Speedway (NASCAR)
  • Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte (PGA Tour)
  • Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro (PGA Tour)
  • WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary (Courage, NWSL)

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About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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