March Madness driving big revenue from NC sports betting launch; $141 million paid out in winnings

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Thursday, March 28, 2024
March Madness driving big revenue from sports betting launch
Thanks mostly to Tobacco Road's success in the NCAA tournament, $141 million was paid out in winnings in the first week.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- For the first time in almost a decade, all three Triangle Atlantic Coast Conference teams are in the Sweet 16. And when you combine that with sports betting now being legal in our state, the revenue is pouring in.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission released its early projections of revenue and winnings from legalized sports betting.

In the first week, $141 million was paid out in winnings on an estimated $198.1 million wagered. "Gross wagering revenue" - the base upon which the state will receive its 18% cut in taxes - was close to $42.7 million.

The bulk of that was college basketball. Specifically, at NC State, many Wolfpack faithful had strong payouts while the team was considered a major underdog in the ACC Tournament and now heading to the Sweet 16.

Sterl Carpenter, a commission executive overseeing sports gambling, said it was too early to make informed comparisons of the launch to those in other states. But he did say that North Carolina's launch appeared "on par" with last year's rollout in Massachusetts.

Still, "by all accounts, mobile sports wagering in North Carolina is off to a strong start," Carpenter said, citing public comments by some operators. And he said the early level of winnings "has to do with N.C. State and North Carolina doing pretty well" in the basketball postseason.

But as teams do better, the payout may not be as strong as for people who bought in earlier.

"You've got to remember that as teams continue to win, you're going to get an adjustment on the odds than you would earlier," said Johnny Avello, the Vegas-based Sportsbook director for DraftKings, one of the new companies licensed to operate in North Carolina.

Currently, DraftKings has UNC at +1100 to win the NCAA tournament, Duke at +2200, and NC State still very much an underdog at +9000.

At the Final Four level, there are notably more people betting on NC State than Duke in the South Region of the bracket.

But even when March Madness is done, the betting boom may be far from finished.

Las Vegas oddsmakers also seem to like the Carolina Hurricanes' chance at a Stanley Cup, with DraftKings listing them as the second favorite right now.

The Associated Press contributed.