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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Sports betting in North Carolina is a game-changer


Photos by Kennedy Cox, Lara Crochik and Jay'la Evans.

If you've ever wished that you had a dollar for every time you predicted that UNC was going to win or lose, you might be in luck.

On June 14, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347 into law, legalizing sports betting in North Carolina starting in January of 2024.

North Carolina is finally jumping on a rapidly growing market that has even led Disney-owned ESPN to partner with PENN Entertainment, a casino operator, to launch its own sportsbook. The backtracking of Disney CEO Bob Iger's once-firm stance against sports gambling ("I don't see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling") proves how much money is at stake for major media companies. 

That money will also help grow college sports.

For sports junkies, the prospect of turning one's sports obsession into a form of income is intriguing. Statista projects that 49.3 million people will be participating in the online sports betting market by 2027. 

It's clear there's a demand on the national level. Boil that down to the state that hosts the UNC-Duke rivalry? Yeah, I don't expect a drop-off in interest.

And, thanks to the nifty work of lawmakers who crafted HB 347, UNC system schools will benefit directly from taxes on sportsbooks. The law dictates that 13 colleges in the UNC system will receive $300,000 annually and split an additional percent of the annual tax revenue that comes from state-regulated gambling.

UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State aren't included among those schools, but that revenue will be a great aid to smaller athletic departments and universities in the state.

But don't get it twisted — the Tar Heels will still reap the rewards.

Legalized sports betting could come with an increase in intrigue, attendance and viewership, which will likely bump up revenue for UNC athletics. 

Take the NFL, which saw ratings shoot through the roof after legal sports betting was expanded in 2021, as proof. Yes, the scale is slightly different, but the same principle applies.

Taking a look at the Triangle, communities centered around local sports teams will begin to flourish. Recently, PNC Arena, where N.C. State's men's basketball plays, announced that it will use a $300 million investment from the City of Raleigh and Wake County to add retail and dining spaces, residential units, a hotel and a new indoor music venue. 

Tom Dundon, the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, said in the press release that the goal is to “transform PNC Arena into a year-round destination for residents.”

Another planned part of those renovations is a sportsbook, according to reporting from WRAL's Brian Murphy.

It’s all about the attraction. Sports betting will help draw people to PNC Arena, which will help the local community and the revenue of the teams that play there, like the Hurricanes and the Wolfpack.

Similarly, sports betting will draw fans and adversaries alike to Chapel Hill. There is a real opportunity to use the legalization of sports betting in North Carolina to bolster UNC athletics financially.


@dthsports |

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