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BETTING

Bet365 and NBA’s Charlotte Hornets Sign State’s First Sports Betting Partnership

General View Before Miami Heat Charlotte Hornets Game
A general view of shirts on the seats for fans before the Miami Heat versus Charlotte Hornets game. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/AFP

North Carolina has not yet launched online sports betting, but UK bookmaker bet365 didn’t let that stop them from inking the first sports betting partnership in Tar Heel State history.

Bet365 in the Hornet’s Nest

Reports are that mobile sports betting in North Carolina won’t launch until after the Super Bowl and perhaps, as late as June 2024. However, there’s no time like the present to get one’s duck in a row, at least that appears to be the strategy behind bet365’s recent announcement that they had inked a 10-year pact with the local entry’s NBA franchise.

“Everyone at bet365 is thrilled to partner with the Hornets, as we launch our iconic sports betting brand in North Carolina,” a bet365 spokesperson said in an NBA press release. “The Hornets’ rich and dynamic history is deep rooted in the Queen City community, and we’re abuzz to become part of their exciting future.”

“We are excited to announce this partnership with bet365,” said Hornets Sports & Entertainment Chief Revenue Officer Jacob Gallagher. “Since the day Governor Cooper signed sports wagering into law at Spectrum Center in June, we sought a partner that would help us provide our fans with new, additional opportunities to engage with their favorite sports teams. We are confident that bet365 is a great fit with our organization and can help us do that.”

What’s Next?

The deal gives bet365 access to signage and branding throughout Spectrum Center as well as a presence on Hornets.com and the team’s app. But there was more than just brand awareness involved for the British bookmaker, as the state law permitting mobile sports betting requires that every licensed sportsbook must partner with one of 11 approved professional teams, events, or venues in the state to be eligible for an operator license in North Carolina.

However, one significant omission in the deal is a retail sportsbook located at the Spectrum Center. That’s not happening, at least not yet.

Hornets Chief Operating Officer Jacob Gallagher commented about the notable exception when he said, “When we look at a retail sportsbook and we talk to other teams and we talk to bet365, right now, with this being a mobile sports-betting license where people can bet on their phones, the retail sportsbook wasn’t a priority for us.”

Gallagher also added, “You’re not going to see that in our building now. As we continue to grow the partnership and have conversations, that might change. But, for either of us, we really want to make sure that our fans have the best user experience in their hand, and they can place bets that way.”

Major Strides

Industry insider, Geoff Zochodne, revealed that the partnership is important for a sportsbook like bet365, which is one of the major players in Europe but has taken a cautious approach to the U.S. betting market.

“It speaks volumes,” Zochodne said. “Because bet365 is one of the biggest operators in the world, but they have been very discerning and really taken their time moving into the U.S. market. This really stresses the importance of North Carolina to bet365 and the industry overall.”

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