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bet365 has partnered with the Charlotte Hornets to become the team's official sports betting app.
LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets reacts after shooting a three-pointer against the Washington Wizards. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images via AFP.

North Carolina sports betting apps have yet to be officially launched, but one of the state's professional sports teams has already announced an exclusive long-term partnership with a sports wagering provider.

The NBA's Charlotte Hornets have agreed to a partnership with bet365, which will become the official mobile sports betting partner of the team.

“We are excited to announce this partnership with bet365,” said Hornets Sports & Entertainment chief revenue officer Jacob Gallagher. “Since the day Gov. 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.”

The deal makes bet365 the first North Carolina best sportsbook to represent a professional team. The Hornets also became the fifth North American professional team to sign on with bet365 as a wagering partner.

The Hornets join the NFL’s Washington Commanders, MLB's Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Guardians, and the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.

More on the deal

The deal will provide bet365 with valuable exposure in the yet-to-be-launched North Carolina market. It will benefit from the attention of Hornets media partners, including, the Hornets' social media platforms, the Hornets App, and the team’s TV and radio broadcasts.

bet365 signage will become highly visible at the home of the Charlotte Hornets, the Spectrum Center. It premiered during the Nov. 17 NBA In-Season Tournament game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

For the Hornets, they get a valuable global sports betting brand to partner with on the ground floor before legal sports betting even goes live in North Carolina.

The team will benefit from "fan enhancement" opportunities that come with such a sportsbook partnership. Hornets fans will gain Hornets-centric promotions and North Carolina bonuses from bet365 when it goes live.

North Carolina legal sports betting launch

The North Carolina Lottery Commission has been busy, meeting and composing sets of rules that prospective bettors and providers in the state will be expected to follow. The commission met late last week and approved its first set of rules, none of which are particularly unique.

The licensing process has yet to kick off in the state, but it is a good assumption that bet365, thanks to its partnership with the Hornets, will be among the sportsbooks licensed in the state.

In all, eight North Carolina sporting venues are slated to get their own legal sports betting licenses, including the Spectrum Center.

Jan. 8 was the initial target date for the North Carolina sports betting launch but recent reports suggest that's perhaps an overly optimistic timeline. There is simply too much work to do before that date.

North Carolina lawmakers gave themselves until June 15, 2024, to go live. However, it's believed the launch date will be closer to the Jan. 8 target than that deadline. Regulators will want to take advantage of the Super Bowl in February as well as March Madness.