First Legal Sports Bets Placed At North Carolina Casinos

First Legal Sports Bets Placed At North Carolina Casinos

North Carolina bettors started placing their first legal sports bets in the state in time for March Madness.

”The Book” sportsbooks at the Harrah’s Casinos in Cherokee and Murphy on March 18 held a grand opening ceremony and started taking bets before the first games of the NCAA Tournament that day. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' two Harrah’s Casinos by law are the only places in North Carolina where you can put down bets.

RELATED: More on North Carolina sports betting and gaming

"Any time we can add a new amenity at Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos it means a great deal to us as we know it will equally serve our Tribe and our guests," Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Vice Chief Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley said. "I would like to thank the team members of Harrah's Cherokee Casinos for making this day possible. We've created a Vegas-style atmosphere at The Book for our guests to enjoy, so we’re happy that today they can now fully experience it."

The first bet was placed by "guest coach" Frank Patton, according to a news release. The Book will offer wagering on all the games, including live in-play wagering, futures wagering, proposition wagers and parlay cards.

“The Book represents our commitment to continued growth,” Lumpy Lambert, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel general manager, said in the release. “We are thrilled to be able to offer this new amenity to sports fans, especially on the opening day of the NCAA basketball tournament. We know our guests will thoroughly enjoy The Book and the diverse betting experience it will provide.”

A partnership between the tribe, Caesars Entertainment and William Hill resulted in the opening of “The Book” sportsbooks las week. Just weeks ago, after receiving federal approval, Principal Chief Richard Sneed said final steps were being taken with regulators before the NCAA Tournament — one of the nation's biggest sports betting events.

“We are excited to offer legal sports betting at The Book, and just in time for March Madness,” Sneed said in the release announcing the opening date last week. “We would like to thank our partners at William Hill and Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos, as well as state leaders, for making this opening possible.”

North Carolina Compact Approved In Early March

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the compact between the state and the Cherokee tribe that allowed for sports betting in early March. The notice was posted on the Federal Register and took effect March 2.

Gov. Roy Cooper and the tribe reached agreement on an amended compact in early December. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had to advertise a 45-day public comment period.

The North Carolina legislature passed the sports betting bill on July 16, 2019. It was signed into law by Cooper later that month, making in-person wagering legal at the two casinos, both in the western part of the state.

The process was delayed for more than a year while an amendment to the gaming compact was negotiated. The coronavirus pandemic has been cited as one reason for the long delay in coming to an agreement, according to published reports.

Sports Betting in VA, Tennessee

Neighboring Tennessee and Virginia have thriving online sports betting markets. North Carolina could look to join those states.

Sports betting supporters in North Carolina expect legislation to be introduced in the next few weeks and should know by mid-to-late June if the state will expand sports wagering.

Thursday was a big step for North Carolina and legal sports betting.

”COVID-19 has negatively impacted funding for critical community services within our Nation and this new diverse revenue stream is a positive step toward a more stable and secure future for our Tribal members and government operations,” Sneed said after the federal government approved the compact.