There’s no question that North Carolina sports bettors travel to Virginia to make online bets. How many do that and how much they wager could be answered in the near future.
As Virginia’s southern neighbor moves closer to legalizing online sports betting, The Old Dominion must consider how legal online wagering in North Carolina would impact Virginia’s bottom line.
With several major casino projects underway across the southern region of the state, can Virginia continue to draw North Carolina gamblers, many of whom place online sports bets after crossing the border?
Legal NC online sports betting would not launch until 2024
Virginians and visitors to the state currently have 15 Virginia sports betting apps to choose from. The only real restriction on sports betting in Virginia is that in-state college teams are off limits.
Most of the states that border Virginia allow online sports betting. Kentucky will soon launch online betting, while North Carolina has legislation moving through its statehouse to legalize mobile sports betting.
North Carolina does allow retail sports betting. Three in-person sportsbooks are available. One is at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in the southwestern part of the state. There’s another one at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River, a few miles east. Both sportsbooks are run by Caesars. The third retail sportsbook in the state is at Catawba Two Kings, which is farther east and closer to the South Carolina border.
After some tedious delays, HB 347, which would legalize online sports betting in NC, advanced through committee on May 26.
The progress is encouraging for proponents of online sports betting in the state, but nothing is guaranteed. Even if HB 347 passes in the next few months and is signed into law, online sports betting wouldn’t launch until at least 2024. Regulations would have to be put in place. Licenses would have to be granted. It’s a process that can take a year or longer.
So, for at least 2023, Virginia can continue to count on North Carolina residents crossing the border and placing online sport bets.
How much revenue would Virginia lose if NC legalizes online sports betting?
It’s likely that a significant amount of Virginia online sports betting revenue comes from North Carolina bettors. Pinpointing an exact number, however, is not easy to calculate. Some studies attempt to put a number on it, but there are simply too many variables.
Take Virginia casinos as an example. One recent study estimates that North Carolina could lose $259 million to Virginia casinos once they are all built. One NC state senator is spearheading an effort that could result in commercial casinos being constructed near the border with Virginia to keep some of those dollars in North Carolina.
Considering the study, it makes sense that Virginia would lose revenue from legal online sports betting in NC. Exactly how much remains to be seen.
Virginia does enjoy the advantage of a mature market.