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North Carolina Sports Betting Poised for Competitive Launch

Major Players Target North Carolina

FanDuel and DraftKings currently dominate markets across legal betting states. The duo likewise lead in Ohio, combining for over 70% market share in 2023. Both seem positioned as frontrunners in North Carolina as well. However, the state should also see participation from BetMGM, ESPN BET, Caesars, PointsBet and more. The impending battle stands to shape an intense market landscape.

“With ESPN BET, Fanatics and even the new Underdog Sportsbook (…) industry analysts will indeed have their popcorn ready as March 2024 arrives,” said one gambling expert.  

As a top-five sportsbook in Ohio last year, BetMGM enters North Carolina seeking an even stronger foothold. The operator currently offers mobile betting in 14 states and reported robust 2022 revenue. BetMGM will leverage user-friendly interfaces and ongoing partnerships with teams like the Carolina Hurricanes to drive North Carolina engagement.  

Slow-and-Steady Approach for Some

European giant bet365 has taken a “slowly, but confidently and methodically” approach to US market entry over the past years. While lagging initially in Ohio, the company’s gross gaming revenue crossed 6% market share in later months. bet365 now operates in nine states and just gained approval to launch services in North Carolina by March.

Similarly, Fanatics picked up steam during the 2023 football season after a gradual Ohio rollout earlier in the year. The newer sportsbook managed 2-4% market share in the state when comparing total gross receipts. While decent, Fanatics likely wants more. Industry watchers will monitor whether the brand can expand its presence for 2024 football betting.

A Key Question Looms  

“It’s been mentioned in the industry that ESPN BET is not necessarily taking share away from competition, but helping expand the sports betting market, pulling in more casual sports fans and bettors,” one source noted about early Ohio returns. 

The question now is whether North Carolina will follow a similar trajectory. If major advertisers mostly just split existing bettors, rather than expanding the overall market, profit potential falls. But analysts suggest the state’s passion for basketball could ignite substantial new interest when betting goes live in a month. For operators, that presents a major revenue growth opportunity.  

Ongoing Action in Established Markets

Even as North Carolina garners attention, sportsbooks continue targeting established betting states like Ohio. After Barstool Sportsbook’s disappointing returns there in 2023, PENN has now pivoted to promote its new ESPN platform instead. Early performance saw ESPN BET gather around 9% gross gaming revenue in November and December. However, analysts want to monitor whether such figures hold up post-launch.

“We’ll need to analyze the data in the months ahead to see how ESPN’s share of the market shakes out as some of the promotional spend normalizes,” said one source close to the issue. Still, PENN likely feels satisfied to have doubled average monthly revenue generation in Ohio with its recent betting switch.


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