North Carolina Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

Strict gambling regulations are enforced in North Carolina. Most forms of gambling activities are forbidden, except bets placed in casinos on Native American lands. Charitable organizations can hold limited bingo and raffles, which form the exceptions. The North Carolina Education Lottery is occasionally allowed in instances where there is a lack in educational funding.

This article will further explore the laws and regulations of gambling in the state of North Carolina. It will explain in detail which gambling activities are forbidden. Additionally, it will introduce possible gamble locations in the Tar Heel State.

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Brief History of North Carolina Gambling

Gambling laws have always been strict in the Tar Heel State. Way back in 1749, the state government did not encourage “excessive and immoderate” gambling. They refuted gambling debts higher than £100. In 1753, they also refuted any debts and further prohibited gambling in public. Even thirty years later, these laws did not change. Games called “A.B.C. and E.O. tables” had an imposed tax of £250 in 1785. And in 1791, all games were banned altogether.

During the 18th and 19th century, irregular lotteries were allowed by the government to raise money for a particular cause. For example, one such cause was in 1826 when a judge Archibald Murphey authorized the lottery. His goal was to collect $15,000 to finance a book on North Carolina’s history. However, in 1835, there was a movement against any lotteries, and the government banned them.

The first state lottery was later introduced in the 1960s and legalized in the 1990s. Also, they lifted the ban on raffles and bingo games played for charity purposes. In 1983, the government introduced and legalized beach bingo games but with a couple of rules — one of them being that the winnings could not exceed $10.

Gambling Laws in North Carolina — The Law Overview

We have already mentioned the early history of gambling laws in North Carolina. Additional gambling laws include horse and greyhound racing, casinos, tribal gaming, social gaming, online gaming, and more.

The Old North State (another NC nickname) defines gambling as “operating a game of chance or playing at or betting on any game of chance at which money, property, or other thing of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not.” Even though this definition sounds simple, it makes any type of betting or gambling illegal. With this definition, the authorities could prosecute individual internet players, despite iGaming not being explicitly unlawful in NC.

For North Carolina’s residents, participating in any type of illegal gambling activity is a Class 2 misdemeanor which can lead to 60 days in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000.

Horse and Dog Racing Laws

Horse racing is illegal in North Carolina, and it has never been legal. Greyhound racing is currently illegal, but it was legal for a short time from 1948 to 1954. The Carolina Racing Association opened the first greyhound racing track in Morehead City in 1948. A year later, Cavalier Kennel Club opened in Moyock. However, in 1954, The North Carolina Supreme Court passed a law forbidding any dog races. The race tracks got shut down because of the allegations that private companies got special privileges.

Daily Fantasy Sports

After an attempt and failure to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports in the Tar Heel State in 2019, there’s no giving up. The government decided that DFS do not attract enough players to be legalized. House Bill 929 (HB 929), which had the intention of legalizing DFS, was rejected by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill had the intention of defining DFS as a non-gambling activity, but the NC lawmakers did not find it convincing enough.

Online Gambling Laws in North Carolina

As the article already specified, no official laws are banning online gaming in North Carolina. However, many states can find loopholes that could lead to believing that smartphones and other electronic devices can be used as gambling devices. More often, authorities prosecute businesses for some form of online internet gambling. Offshore gambling sites could be your best bet if you live in the Old North State.

Social Gambling Laws

Social gambling is illegal based on the Legal Status section, statue 14-293. Any places, such as cafés or private properties, are not allowed to hold any gambling games. There is a ban on internet sweepstake cafés from 2010 that was enforced in 2013 after having some legal troubles.

Private games held on private property are also forbidden. There is a small chance of police authorities raiding any private games, but players should still be aware since there have been such incidents. If you do indulge in such games, be sure to keep the stakes smaller and with no involvement of alcohol, drugs, or weapons.

Charity Gambling Laws

Only licensed bingo operators can organize charitable bingo. Bingo for charity can only operate twice a week, and the prizes cannot exceed $500. On the other hand, small-stakes bingo is legal with prizes no higher than $10, and anyone can operate it. Raffles are only organized twice a year with higher prizes. The highest cash prize is $10,000, and the highest non-cash prize cannot be higher than $50,000. The state lottery is only allowed when education funds are needed.

Tribal Casinos and Gaming in North Carolina

The only legalized casinos in North Carolina are owned and operated by Native Americans. The Native American tribe, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, owns two casinos — Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. Those two casinos are the only casinos in the whole state. They also own one high-stakes bingo parlor.

In 1994, the tribe and the governor reached an agreement called the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Under that agreement, the Indians could build a casino with electronic games requiring “skill or dexterity.” In 1995 and 1997, they opened an interim casino and a permanent casino consequently. In 2012 the casino started offering table games, and in 2015, the second casino opened.

During the first 16 years of operating, Harrah’s Cherokee did not serve any alcohol on its premises. Members of the tribe finally allowed serving alcohol on the casino grounds in 2009, and they started serving alcohol in 2010.

Where to Gamble in North Carolina?

As we already mentioned, there are only two legal casinos in the whole Old North state, as well as a tribal bingo. All three are owned and operated by Indian tribes.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort

The casino is located on the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee in North Carolina. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is owned by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and operated by Caesars Entertainment. It opened in 1997, and it is the first legal casino in the state.

In the beginning, the casino only offered video poker for its players and visitors. A tribal bingo parlor opened at the beginning of the 1990s. NC law requires that all games have some skill level. Thus, the casino offers video slot machines. Since 2012, the casino also offers live table games and currently there are over one hundred of them. Additionally, there are daily no-limit hold’em poker tournaments.

The resort has three hotel towers with more than a thousand rooms, which makes it the largest hotel in North Carolina. There is an events center, conference center, café, food court, and a workout center. Their guests can also enjoy an indoor and outdoor pool and a bowling complex.

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is a casino and hotel located in Murphy, North Carolina. It is just one hour drive from its sister hotel. The complex opened in 2015, and it’s only the second casino in the state. The casino floor operates with more than 1,000 slot games and 70 table games. The hotel has seven floors and more than 300 rooms. The ground floor has a restaurant, a conference room, a workout center, and a bar. Additionally, there are some restaurants like the Panda Express and coffee shops like Starbucks.

Cherokee Tribal Bingo

Located in Cherokee, Cherokee Tribal Bingo is on a much smaller scale than Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. It only offers bingo and a seating capacity for one thousand people. The bingo dates are not always the same, but the doors open at 4.30 PM, Wednesday to Sunday. You must be 18 years old to play the tribal bingo. On Super Saturdays, players can win up to $35,000 overall.


What is the legal gambling age for players in North Carolina?

North Carolina has a legal gambling age of 21 for casinos. For lottery and charity gaming, the legal age is 18 years old.

Are daily fantasy sports legal in North Carolina?

Daily fantasy sports are not legal in the state of North Carolina.

Is online gambling legal in North Carolina?

There are no strict laws against online gambling, but we recommend that players be careful when they engage in such activities.

Is greyhound betting legal in North Carolina?

No, it is not. Greyhound races and betting on races are illegal since 1954, and they have remained illegal.

What games can you gamble on in North Carolina?

Currently, you can buy lottery tickets, bingo and raffle tickets where all proceeds go to charities. Also, you can legally gamble at the only two casinos in the state.