NCAA Basketball Tournament Ignites North Carolina Sports Betting

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The habits of new sports bettors in North Carolina have so far been predictable. Industry analysts speculated that sportsbook operators hoped they would heavily patronize the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament beginning last Thursday.

They did, and then some.

  • From Thursday through Sunday, security and compliance company GeoComply logged 19.5 million geolocation checks on 743,000 unique active accounts in the state.
  • That marked a 56% increase in geolocation checks over the previous week (mobile sports betting launched in North Carolina on March 11) and a 39% increase in active accounts.
  • Since sports betting launched on March 11, GeoComply has handled nearly 50 million geolocation checks for one million unique users.

“Clearly, the tournament is driving significant activity throughout North Carolina,” Danny DiRienzo, GeoComply Senior Director of Government Relations told Gaming Today.

NC State and Duke advancing to the Elite 8 figured to be good for local business, too.

NASCAR Next for Some North Carolina Home Cooking?

The predictability of North Carolina’s appetite for wagering on college basketball was likely heartening news for NASCAR and the PGA Tour, both claiming decades of heritage and scores of fans in the state.

“We assumed a couple of things to be true about North Carolinians,” DiRienzo expounded. “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.”

NASCAR managing director of sports betting Joe Solosky said he expects NASCAR to “over-index” in the state.

Meanwhile, South of the Border, Denial

GeoComply is still compiling the number of attempted log-ins from neighboring South Carolina, where sports betting is illegal, but DiRienzo expected it to be significant. Red drop pins on the map above signify unsuccessful attempts to access legal sportsbooks licensed in North Carolina from Charlotte suburbs in South Carolina.

“Fort Mill, Rock Hill are major suburbs of Charlotte with a lot of people that actually commute into Charlotte to work from those areas,” DiRienzo said. “So we will continue to see – as  South Carolina remains an illegal market – to see large volumes of geolocation activity in South Carolina attempting to access North Carolina sportsbooks.”

While most betting activity was documented, as expected, in the population centers of Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Raleigh-Durham, accounts popped from the Nantahala National Forest to Nags Head.

“I have not seen a pin-drop map around the launch of any market over the past three years that was as blanketed as North Carolina,” DiRienzo said. “I mean, that’s totally subjective and anecdotal, but it was amazing for me to see even in areas that really don’t hold a lot of population in North Carolina to be very, very active.”

DiRienzo expects some “really interesting numbers” from the Outer Banks and Wilmington once the summer tourist rush begins.

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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