As North Carolina Arenas Undergo Renovations, How Will Sports Betting Be Involved?

As North Carolina Arenas Undergo Renovations, How Will Sports Betting Be Involved?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

A highly anticipated long-term renovation is set to begin this summer in Charlotte, and the timing of it coincides with the ramp-up for expanding sports betting in North Carolina.

Last year, the Charlotte City Council agreed to spend $215 million in public funds to update the Spectrum Center as part of a deal to keep the Charlotte Hornets, the city’s NBA team, in town through at least 2045.

The Hornets also can build a brick-and-mortar sportsbook in or near Spectrum Center as part of House Bill 347, the sports betting bill Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law last month. The arena is one of eight professional sports facilities across the state that can partner with an operator for 
an in-person wagering facility.

North Carolina’s pro teams were instrumental in helping the legislation pass. which also cleared the way for NC betting apps to launch early next year. 

“We really fought hard to have that included — not just us, but the other sports venues, to be able to have a sportsbook either in our building or in very close proximity,” Hornets President Fred Whitfield told Charlotte Business Journal in an article published earlier this month.

And just outside of Charlotte is Catawba Two Kings Casino, which houses one of NC's three retail sportsbooks. The casino is undergoing a substantial renovation and expansion itself, and will house a large-scale sportsbook when it opens. 

Hornets Touring Arenas

According to the publication, team officials have visited several facilities across the country in planning for the renovation project. That includes the Footprint Center in Arizona, home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and a FanDuel retail sportsbook that opened nearly two years ago.

Whitfield did not reveal any information about a possible sports betting partner for the Hornets. Basketball and Carolina icon Michael Jordan recently reached a deal to sell a majority stake in the team. Jordan, who is expected to remain a minority investor if the league approves the sale, is an investor in DraftKings and an advisor to the gaming company’s Board of Directors.

Regardless of whether the Hornets pursue an in-stadium sportsbook or choose to locate it elsewhere, some of the renovation work is set to start later this summer, and the entire project should conclude in 2027.

The earliest any type of mobile sports betting can take place in North Carolina is on Jan. 8. The state has a roughly five-month window from that date to get operators approved to take wagers. Keep tabs on this site as operators like BetMGM North Carolina ramp up their activation in the meantime.

Meanwhile, in Raleigh...

Spectrum Center isn’t the only North Carolina arena targeted for renovation. A few hours away in Raleigh, officials there are beginning to review plans for upgrades at PNC Arena, a facility shared by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and N.C. State’s men’s basketball team.

On Friday, the Centennial Authority’s Building Committee began reviewing a list of priorities for upgrades and enhancements to the 24-year-old arena. The Centennial Authority was created by the North Carolina General Assembly to oversee the development and operation of the arena and its surrounding 80 acres.

A sportsbook wasn’t expressly stated in the document prepared by CAA ICON. However, the recommended priorities include adding several bars. There’s also a recommendation to install infrastructure that would “accommodate vendor kiosks” on the arena’s south entrance plaza. CAA ICON will refine the proposed upgrade list after conferring with the Authority, both tenants and political leaders. 

A budget and financing plan must also be developed.

Until then, Caesars Sportsbook North Carolina operates retail betting facilities in the western part of the state at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River. 

Is Brick-and-Mortar Worth It?

Since PASPA was repealed five years ago, professional sports teams and venues have sought to partner with sports betting operators and host sportsbooks either on the grounds or nearby. Some jurisdictions, such as Arizona, Illinois, Ohio and Washington, D.C., have permitted teams to host brick-and-mortar venues.

In Ohio, where retail sports betting began at the start of the year, it has not fared as well as many had hoped.

Ohio’s NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS teams can host a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, but only three of the eight have taken advantage of that. The other 11 retail sites are at casinos or racinos across the state.

Two of the three books tied to teams – BetMGM at Great American Ball Park and SuperBook at Taft’s Ale House near FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium – have finished at the bottom of the financial reports for the first five months.

Only once has BetMGM reported at least a 1% share of the retail handle since opening on Jan. 1. BetMGM and the Cincinnati Reds have already announced plans to move the sportsbook away from the stadium and across the street from the ballpark’s main entrance.

SuperBook’s best month was March, when it generated a handle of $16,408. It has yet to generate a .1% share of the retail handle in any of the first five months of operation.

Sports teams elsewhere have found other ways to connect with their sports betting partners. Caesars Sportsbook has created online sports betting lounges at Citi Field and Highmark Stadium in New York. BetMGM plans to open one later this year at Bridgestone Arena with the Nashville Predators.

In North Carolina, you can find three retail sportsbooks that have been in operation since 2021 - Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort, Harrah's Cherokee Valley River and Catawba Two Kings. Caesars Sportsbook operates the sports betting facilities at the Harrah's locations while the Catawba sportsbook is operated in-house. 

Follow for the latest analysis and North Carolina sports betting promos once online sports betting becomes legal in early 2024.



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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