ESPN BET has landed its North Carolina sports betting partner. On Tuesday morning, PENN Entertainment revealed that its U.S. online wagering app signed a long-term market access agreement with Quail Hollow Club, which hosts the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship.
While contingent on regulatory approval of ESPN BET’s license, the deal goes beyond just giving the online sports betting operator an entryway into the state. ESPN BET also will become the sole official sports betting partner with the Wells Fargo Championship. The tournament, which will run from May 9-12, is one of the PGA’s “Signature Events.” That means there are fewer entrants, but they typically attract more of the world’s top players and are some of the tour’s more popular events each year.
Benjie Levy, who leads PENN Interactive, said the company is eager to work with its newest partner and develop “unique” experiences for fans coming to the Charlotte country club.
“We welcome the upcoming launch of regulated online sports wagering in North Carolina and are extremely pleased to partner with a leading gaming and entertainment operator in PENN Entertainment,” Quail Hollow Club President Johnny Harris said in a statement. “PENN’s compelling online sports betting brand ESPN BET, cutting-edge technology and extensive operational expertise make them an ideal long-term partner for this industry.”
Second Partnership Announced
ESPN BET, which PENN launched last month after ending its arrangement with Barstool Sports, is the second operator to announce its North Carolina sports betting partnership. Bet365 signed its deal with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets last month.
North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 347 in June to legalize sports betting statewide – it currently is available at the state’s tribal casinos. However, three months later, legislators amended the new law in the state budget to require sports betting operators to sign “a written designation agreement.” In short, any operator wanting to be licensed must partner with one of North Carolina’s major professional sports teams, NASCAR, an in-state track that hosts a NASCAR event, the PGA Tour or a golf course that hosts an annual PGA event.
When Will North Carolina Sports Betting Begin?
The North Carolina State Lottery Commission is in charge of regulating sports betting in the state. Currently, its staff members are working on drafting rules. The official application was released on Friday, and interested operators must submit theirs by Dec. 27 if they want to be part of the initial statewide launch.
The launch date for ESPN BET North Carolina still has not been set. Under HB 347, the earliest the rules can take effect is Jan. 8. However, Commission Chair Ripley Rand said last week that due to the work that remains, North Carolina online sports betting will not launch in time for the Super Bowl.
A March launch date, potentially around the start of the NCAA basketball tournament, is still feasible. The basketball tournament is one of the most popular events in the U.S. sports calendar, and North Carolina is one of the hotbeds for college hoops.
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