Wasn’t sports betting supposed to be easy money for NFL teams? A look at the many factors—two states, tribal lands and casinos, ‘integrity fees,’ and the dark, complicated history of legalized gambling in the South—the Carolina Panthers and the NFL’s richest owner are navigating in the quest for sports gambling revenue.
It’s been a year since Tepper got NFL approval to buy the Panthers, and ever since he has been living the franchise’s “two states, one team” slogan. In 1995, the franchise played its inaugural season in South Carolina (at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium) while Bank of America Stadium was being constructed in Charlotte. Training camp has always been held at the alma mater of former owner Jerry Richardson, Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. But by bringing headquarters across the state line, Tepper is embracing the Palmetto State in ways unseen during the team’s 25-year history.
This is far from a philanthropic endeavor, of course. Tepper sees in South Carolina a state that could be more enthusiastic about its NFL team, and thus make his franchise more money. But one big reason why Tepper wants a presence in both states lies in the future of sports betting. In a sense, he’s hedging his bet on which state legalizes sports gambling first. Then, if and when both do, he could, in theory, double dip.