NASCAR Betting on North Carolina for Speedy Results

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NASCAR accounted for just .15-.20% of the amount wagered legally on sports in the United States in 2023. That’s up, Joe Solosky, NASCAR managing director of sports betting asserts, but he admits it isn’t good enough.

Neither is the fact that just 10% of that came in-race, a major point of emphasis for the stock car series. Beginning Monday, however, Solosky feels like NASCAR is finally going to…
find another gear
get up on the wheel
take the checkered flag
“over-index.”

The reason: North Carolina sports betting launched at noon ET on March 11.

“This will for sure be a standout state. I have full confidence that North Carolina is going to over-index heavy on NASCAR.”

That’s North Carolina, which houses two tracks hosting six NASCAR races across three series, where the series Hall of Fame is located in Charlotte. (Where former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will make DraftKings’ ceremonial first bet). Which is adjacent to South Carolina, where another five NASCAR races are held.

North Carolina – NASCAR history and affection run deep. And as with PGA Tour officials, NASCAR leaders are certain that North Carolina is going to be good for business, and a proving ground for the advances they’re trying to make nationally.

“The demand for it, I think it is going to be organically there,” Solosky told Gaming Today. “This will for sure be a standout state. I have full confidence that North Carolina is going to over-index heavy on NASCAR.”

Danny DiRienzo, GeoComply Senior Director of Government Relations is interested in NASCAR’s North Carolina numbers, especially after the state bet as heavily on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament as expected.

“We assumed a couple of things to be true about North Carolinians,” DiRienzo said. “One is, first, major sports fans. But more importantly major college basketball fans. I think our data has already proved out. That is true.”

“The second assumption we’ve made is that there’s a lot of NASCAR fans in North Carolina. So we’re excited to see whether our theory about increased traffic and activity during NASCAR season holds true.”

Gaming Today spoke with Solosky on the North Carolina opportunity, aligning with DraftKings for market entry and other topics.

North Carolina Preparations

SOLOSKY: We have our partner in DraftKings in the state that we’re working really hard with to execute over the next [few] days, what the launch is going to look like, what the races in North Carolina are going to look like for them. And nationally as well. The partnership isn’t just North Carolina.

They’re going to promote NASCAR heavy in other states that they’re live in too. Several of our top 10 TV demographics are North Carolina. Over the last five years there’s been millions of people close who haven’t been able to wager. This is going to be the first time.

We’re anticipating a big bump and we’ve seen interest from other sportsbooks as well – who are going to be live in North Carolina – of either partnering with a former driver or a current driver or a team because they know how important an endorsement from a driver is to their fans in the state.

Why DraftKings for NASCAR’s North Carolina Partner?

SOLOSKY: DraftKings has been our fantasy partner since 2015, but we haven’t really crossed the bridge of getting them into sports betting.

When I saw the news that leagues were going to be the gatekeepers on the licenses, I went straight to DraftKings and said, ‘Hey, let’s get something done,’ because we wanted someone who’s going to be a tier one bookmaker in the state.

And it wasn’t easy, and it took a long time. But we got them as our partner and we’re really, really proud of the strong competition in the state with the leagues and teams here, that we were the ones that got DraftKings.

On Tracks’ Betting Partners Diluting DraftKings’ Impact

SOLOSKY: I don’t think it dilutes it. Speedway Motorsports obviously had the two licenses to sell [Charlotte Motor and North Wilkesboro speedways], and we worked collaboratively on that, which is another kind of point of pride about how this all went down.

Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR worked closely and we made sure we weren’t stepping on each other’s toes, or that it was a rat race. We’re going to do what NASCAR’s going to do, what we do with DraftKings. We’re still finalizing how they’re going to activate with all the assets that they have with us.

If it were a monopoly state like Florida, it would just be one brand. But there are a bunch of brands out here. Most leagues, if not all of us, have gone with the model of working with multiple sportsbooks and giving them each their own lanes. Maybe it’s not officially exclusive, but we don’t promote two sportsbooks in the same place. We try to give them ownership of a certain platform if they think that platform’s important.

On NASCAR Breaking the Southern Sports Betting Logjam

SOLOSKY: I think the legalization in North Carolina can only help the progression of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, and states like that move along and legalize quicker.

And Florida as well. It puts more pressure on them because that’s an argument made as these legislative sessions are ongoing, the tax dollars they’re missing out on. And then also what’s important is, and was focused on in Alabama, was getting rid of the offshore market.

We’ve been involved just like the other leagues in all sports betting legislation, specifically those states. Not only do we keep a close watch on what’s going on, but sometimes, we are directly there at hearings.

In South Carolina last year, legislators had some of the leagues and operators come in to give them an education session on the kind of space they generally had and to address some of their concerns.

Do You Know How Well You’re Doing in Florida?

Hard Rock Bet NASCAR

SOLOSKY: I don’t. But we know there is truth in interest. Hopefully, we will get some information from Hard Rock, given that they’re a partner now, to see how well they did.

But generally, from being there that weekend, it was the first time you could bet on the Daytona 500 in person online at the race. The feedback from Hard Rock is that they didn’t have anything to compare it to because there was nothing the year before. But they were overwhelmed by the amount of engagement on the Daytona 500 and the odds for the ARCA race.

Will Hard Rock Add NASCAR’s nVenue In-Race Product?

SOLOSKY: They’re one of the groups that we’ve talked to directly, and they, because of Florida, because of the Daytona 500, because of our partnership, I think they’re one of the groups that we might see the in-play product on first if it is adopted on a tiered basis.

Portions of this interview were edited for style and clarity.

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer 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, 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 yelled at him numerous times. In covering the sports betting industry, he's looking for what and who are next and why.

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