Game on: How sports gambling would work in N.C.
Plus: New historical statue on Sugar Creek greenway; Getting to the bottom of Ballantyne white pipes mystery; Explaining stalled uptown hotel; Raleigh mayor accused of berating 10-year-old girl
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Q&A: Understanding why N.C. is poised to legalize sports betting — and what you could bet on, and where
The only places in North Carolina where sports gambling is legal are on tribal lands in Western North Carolina, like at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, seen here on opening night in March 2021. State legislators could legalize online sports betting in the state in the next few weeks.
North Carolina’s General Assembly seems likely to take up the topic of legalized sports betting in the next few weeks, with companies hiring lobbyists on the issue and supporters saying they’ve got the votes.
As of now, gambling on sports is legal only in two casinos in Western North Carolina, three hours away. But if the legislature approves, North Carolina residents could gamble legally on sports from their phones or at betting lounges at spots like Bank of America Stadium, the Spectrum Center and Quail Hollow Club.
A bill legalizing sports wagering passed the N.C. Senate last year, and supporters from both major parties say they think they have the votes in the House to pass a bill within weeks. Gov. Roy Cooper has indicated his support, too. Neighboring states including Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee have passed similar bills in the last few years.
To understand how that might play out here — what it would look like, the kinds of bets available and so on — The Ledger’s Tony Mecia spoke this week with reporter Bennett Conlin, who covers state legislatures and regulations for sports betting news site SportsHandle.com. Remarks were edited for brevity and clarity.
Q. Why is this happening now? Is it that there are other states that are doing this and we are losing out on revenue?
Yeah, that’s what I have seen in a lot of other states, too, especially in the East Coast and Southeast. Some of that is where they are pushing to keep up with other states and realizing that people are betting using illegal offshore platforms. There are people in North Carolina who are betting on sports illegally. You might as well have them do it on regulated platforms and get some tax revenue for the state — that’s typically the logic most states are using.
Q. How would this be set up, and what would it look like in North Carolina?
Typically, they’re going to partner with a professional sports venue that seats over 17,000 people or a golf venue or golf tournament that gets over 50,000 live spectators. I would think they would give it to some of those major entities in North Carolina — those major sports stadiums, arenas or whatever. And they will probably partner with national operators.
I think if you are a North Carolina sports bettor, you will have access to DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, Caesars, Barstool, probably — all the big-name books, which if you are a recreational bettor is a pretty decent thing to have. You are going to have some well-known platforms with easy-to-use interfaces.
Mobile betting tends to be 80% to 90% of betting in most states. It’s way easier to bet on your couch and not really have to do much, compared to going out to a stadium, going into a game and then placing a bet.
Q. Would we see more brick and mortar casinos? Does it allow in-person sports betting?
It’s not going to be, like, widespread casinos. But it sounded like there could be kiosks at major venues. So you’ll maybe go to a Panthers game that could have sports betting kiosks, where you could place an in-person wager. For the most part, they’ll be in stadiums. My guess is some of those would potentially keep them open year-round. In D.C., those stay open year-round. So you can go into the Capital One Arena, even if the Wizards aren’t playing.
Q. I went to a Washington Nationals game last year, and I was surprised to see they had basically a big geo-fence where you could bet, but if you walk two blocks away, you can’t, and then they’re building a casino beside the stadium. Would it be like that here?
It’ll be a lot more normal. At Nationals games, the setup is kind of terrible. People have complained about that one. Betting in D.C. is kind of a mess. But in North Carolina, it’ll make a lot more sense.
Q. What kind of bets do they typically have? Do they have in-game prop bets? If I’m watching the Panthers game, can I bet whether Christian McCaffrey is going to rush for 50 yards in the second half?
Typically, they don’t go too granular. So you can’t necessarily do ball or strike on the next pitch or whatever. It’s hard to get that information fast enough to keep up with.
In North Carolina, the bill says you can bet on college sports. You can bet on UNC-Duke, which I imagine would get a lot of interest. So it’s professional sports, college sports, then typically the Olympics and some of those amateur sports. High school sports is not allowed.
DraftKings and FanDuel have a ton of prop bets. FanDuel implemented the same-game parlay. So you can take the Panthers to cover a 4-point spread, you can take the over, you can take McCaffrey to get 100 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards and combine it all into a parlay and, you know, get wild odds: bet 10 bucks and win $400, or something like that. Those are the ones that on NFL Sundays, people go kind of crazy on, because you can use the same game and do seven different Panthers props and combine it all.
Q. What have we learned from states that have legalized sports betting? Are there problems with gambling addiction?
Problem gambling is an interesting one. It’s still kind of early with some of these states to know exactly how much it increases. I think it’s fair to assume there’s at least a little bit of an increase in problem gambling. At the same time, when you can put some money into funds to help with that, that can be beneficial. Currently people are using those illegal apps, and they don’t really necessarily have a lot of money from the state to help out if they do get a problem.
Q. What’s the next big trend in sports betting? What does the future look like?
Major operators limiting bets is a big one. If you’re winning, and you’re doing really well, they’re limiting your bets. That’s a trend to keep an eye on for sure. So if you’re a really good bettor, and you’re betting $1,000, DraftKings might say, “Oh, you can only bet $11 on this game.”
The other one is just the absurd marketing costs and customer acquisition costs. Like if they do legalize it in North Carolina, get ready for a lot of TV ads for DraftKings and FanDuel. They kind of beat you over the head with them. They spend a lot of money to try to get customers and keep them for their lifetime of betting.
Another thing is, if they do legalize it, the major books always offer pretty beneficial signup bonuses. Even if you don’t like sports betting, if you play the numbers correctly, you could sign up for BetMGM, DraftKings or FanDuel, use your free bets wager, probably make a couple hundred dollars and then withdraw that money and delete the apps. If you’re diligent enough and disciplined enough, you can make a few hundred bucks and then never have to go back on the apps.
Related Ledger article:
“The first day of legal sports gambling in N.C.” (🔒, March 19, 2021)
Today’s supporting sponsors are Landon A. Dunn, attorney-at-law in Matthews…
… and T.R. Lawing Realty:
Pioneering ‘Dr. Annie’ immortalized with greenway statue
The Trail of History dedicated its 10th statue on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway on Saturday: a sculpture of Dr. Annie Alexander (1864-1929), North Carolina’s first licensed female physician. Trail of History chairman Tony Zeiss said: “She was a pioneer in medicine, and the community loved her.” The Ledger examined “Dr. Annie’s” life last fall as part of our “Historical Heavyweights” series by John Short. The statue, by Colorado-based sculptor Jane Dedecker, is near the intersection of Elizabeth Avenue and Kings Drive, not far from the statue of revolutionary figure “Captain Jack.” (Photo courtesy of the Trail of History.)
You Ask, We Answer: Solving the mystery of Ballantyne’s white pipes
Welcome to the latest installment of “You Ask, We Answer,” where we answer readers’ burning development questions🔥. As we always say, there’s no rezoning request we can’t track down; no land sale we can’t sniff out. Have a question you’d like us to look into? Email us.
Today’s question comes from a Ledger member named David:
I know you like to look up and report on curious things: Can you find out why there are white pipes sticking out of the ground around the Ballantyne area, such as on North Community House Road between Ballantyne Commons and I-485? No one seems to know what these are.
We drove around that area, and David is absolutely right — there are dozens of white PVC pipes lining major thoroughfares, poking out of the grass at various heights. They’re all marked with the utilities that lie below: “Fiber 2 ft,” “Power 20 inches,” etc.
We took the question to the City of Charlotte transportation department, where a construction supervisor gave us a not-too-definitive answer:
Typically, white pipes with utilities marked with depths show areas where underground existing utilities have been identified by a method of potholing. This is typically done prior to a future excavation to minimize hitting the utilities.
OK, but why? We turned to City Councilman Ed Driggs who represents the Ballantyne part of south Charlotte to solve the mystery, and his office put us in touch with Duke Energy, where spokeswoman Martha Wegner gave us the 4-1-1:
These conduits are where utilities have been spot dug for installation depth due to the upcoming road widening projects in association with the [Ballantyne] Reimagined project. This was to ensure adequate depths prior to grading. They could be power, fiber, cable, etc.
Ballantyne Reimagined is a giant mixed-use development that’s under construction within about a mile or so from where most of the pipes are found. So south Charlotteans, take heed: where you see white pipes today, you may be seeing construction crews tomorrow. —CB
Prosecutors: Investor in stalled uptown hotel accepted millions in money laundering scheme
For nearly three years, work was stalled on what was planned to be an Even Hotel on Stonewall Street near I-277, leaving an unsightly concrete ground floor and elevator shafts rising up through weeds.
One big question around town is why it stopped. Turns out, one of the investors was having, shall we say, some difficulties with federal prosecutors: One of the investors in the hotel project accepted millions in drug money laundered through a scheme known as the “Black Market Peso Exchange,” prosecutors say.
Sefira Capital LLC, a Florida-based investment firm, settled a case with the U.S. Department of Justice in January 2021, agreeing to forfeit $29M to resolve a charge that it and 31 of its subsidiaries accepted millions of laundered drug profits.
According to a 2021 news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Sefira or its subsidiaries received millions in criminal proceeds between 2016 and 2019 from certain Sefira Investors as part of an effort by drug trafficking organizations and others to launder the criminal proceeds through the Black Market Peso Exchange.
Between January 2018 and January 29, 2019, the DEA transferred millions of dollars of narcotics proceeds to certain Sefira subsidiaries at the instruction of money-laundering brokers. These funds were wired from DEA undercover accounts that were not titled in the name of, or under the control of, any particular Sefira Investor. Sefira accepted these funds without inquiring as to the source of ownership of these accounts or funds.
Sefira and Georgia-based Mayfair Street Partners were developing the uptown project, which halted in 2019. Last September, Mayfair sold the parcel for $13.9M to St. Louis-based Midas Hospitality, which plans to turn it into an Element Hotel, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.
Construction on the site resumed this spring, CBJ reported. An email to Mayfair Street Partners from The Ledger wasn’t returned. —CB
Covid level upgraded: Mecklenburg County has moved from Covid level low/green to medium/yellow. The change “reflects a significant increase in positive cases,” the Health Department said. The change means that high-risk individuals should “talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other safety precautions.” The county is averaging 81 Covid patients a day in local hospitals, health director Raynard Washington told The Ledger. That’s lower than the 658 hospitalized at the peak in January and 174 when the mask mandate was lifted around the end of February.
Cocaine found in wheelchair: Authorities at Charlotte’s airport seized 23 pounds of cocaine hidden in the seat of a passenger’s electric wheelchair. The passenger, who arrived on a flight from the Dominican Republic, was charged with felony trafficking in cocaine. Customs officials said the cocaine has a street value of $378,000. (WFAE)
Storefront renovations in Elizabeth: Dollar General plans to move out of its location on 7th Street in Elizabeth, clearing the way for a renovation of the Shops on 7th strip center by the corner of 7th Street and Pecan Avenue. Landlord Eastern Federal plans to renovate the exterior, add patio space and divide the Dollar General location into two or three new stores, an official with Thrift Commercial Real Estate Services said. (Biz Journal, subscriber-only)
Westside senior apartments: The nonprofit Westside Community Land Trust bought 4.5 acres of land for 120 senior apartments on West Boulevard near Tyvola Road. (Observer)
Mortgage industry job cuts: Nashville-based FirstBank says it’s laying off 74 workers at its Charlotte office this summer, part of a wave of job cuts in the mortgage industry as interest rates rise. (Observer, subscriber-only)
Undefeated state champs: Providence High won the state’s 4A baseball championship on Saturday, capping an undefeated 34-0 season. (Fox 46)
Raleigh mayor accused of making 10-year-old cry: A New York Rangers fan says Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin brought his 10-year-old daughter to tears at the Carolina Hurricanes playoff game last week by berating them as they moved into the mayor’s lower-level section at the end of the game. The mayor largely disputes the account, saying she merely asked an usher to “monitor” the Rangers fans coming into the section as Canes fans left early in the Game 7 blowout loss. But a witness told the News & Observer: “The mayor and a few of the other people around there started yelling at them to go back” and that the mayor apologized after “the girl was streaming in tears.” (News & Observer)
Loves me some internet: N.C.’s cheese champ
Recent N.C. State grad Abby Lampe won the women’s race in this weekend’s Gloucester Cheese Roll in England by being first to tumble 200 yards down a hill in pursuit of a nine-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese. “I was worried I was going to lose my teeth or break an ankle, so all good. I can’t believe I won!” said Lampe, an industrial and systems engineering major from Smithfield.
Unless you are a day trader, checking your stocks daily is unhealthy. So how about weekly? How local stocks of note fared last week (through Friday’s close), and year to date:
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