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Chuba Hubbard of the Carolina Panthers celebrates a first down against the Indianapolis Colts, as we look at the latest ESPN BET and North Carolina news.
Chuba Hubbard of the Carolina Panthers celebrates a first down against the Indianapolis Colts. Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images via AFP.

PENN Entertainment's ESPN BET is poised to become the newest North Carolina sports betting app. Thanks to an agreement with Quail Hollow Club, home of the PGA's signature Fargo Championship, the most anticipated new sports wagering product on American soil will be coming to America's newest legal sports betting state, likely during the early part of 2024.

“We are thrilled to partner with Quail Hollow Club and the Wells Fargo Championship as we prepare to bring our new online sports betting brand, ESPN BET, to North Carolina,” Benjie Levy, head of PENN Interactive, said in a joint press release. “Along with market access, we’re excited to sponsor the popular Wells Fargo Championship and look forward to working together with our new partners to create unique fan activations.”

Market access into the North Carolina market is just that for now. It was announced last week that the Tar Heel State will not launch its legal sports betting platform until after the Super Bowl. Those signing up for ESPN BET in North Carolina will likely have to wait until March Madness before placing a legal sports bet in the state and to take advantage of NC sportsbook promos.

More on the deal

Under North Carolina sports betting law, sites are mandated to partner up with a sports franchise, arena, NASCAR track, or PGA tour course in the state in order to provide sports betting to citizens of the state. ESPN BET's announcement of a “long-term, multi-faceted partnership” with Quail Hollow takes care of the first step toward an ultimate launch.

Locking up a partner in North Carolina was huge and allows ESPN BET, which has already launched in 17 U.S. states, to concentrate on what they do best – attract bettors and provide them with multi-faceted media opportunities for their wagering public.

ESPN BET, along with gaining North Carolina sports betting market access, will become the official betting operator of one of the PGA's signature events in the Wells Fargo Championship, which takes place at the golf course in Charlotte.

What ESPN BET brings to North Carolina market

ESPN BET has been a popular download in the American market since launching in 17 states on November 14. During its first week of operation, an estimated 1.1 million ESPN BET downloads were reported, more than double any other sportsbook ever for a one-week period in the American market. ESPN BET made up 70% of the sports betting operator downloads nationwide during that seven-day period.

ESPN BET brings an enormously trusted and recognizable name to the North Carolina market. Many feel that its integration between TV, internet, and other media products along with PENN Entertainment's experience as a top-tier gambling service provider in the U.S. could make for an unstoppable wagering force in not only the Tar Heel State, but around the country as well.

“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,” said Johnny Harris, President, Quail Hollow Club. “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.”

So now what?

The North Carolina Lottery Commission last week announced that the process of receiving and vetting potential sports betting operators would stretch past February's Super Bowl. It means that North Carolina sports betting apps will miss out on the entirety of the bread-and-butter NFL season.

The Commission is expecting hundreds of applications, all thousands of pages long. Each will be required to go through a 60-day vetting period after a submission deadline of December 27.

Simple math puts the end of February as the earliest legal sports betting will be coming to the Tar Heel State. Under the law, June 15, 2024 is the latest the platform can launch in North Carolina.