Greg Olsen helps launch NC mobile sports betting, places ceremonial NASCAR wager

Greg Olsen helps launch NC mobile sports betting app.

When Greg Olsen entered the NFL, there was a zero tolerance policy for sports betting.

As the Carolina Panthers legend continued his playing career, he noticed the impact that modernized gambling — specifically, daily fantasy games — had on professional sports.

While he would hear it from fans if the Panthers came away with a win and he didn’t post a gaudy stat line, Olsen also recalls being approached in the grocery store on a Tuesday when he won fans their fantasy matchups despite tough losses for the team. Being on the other side — including working as FOX Sports’ top NFL color commentator — for the last several years, Olsen has noticed how legal gambling can help grow sports leagues outside of their major market.

Olsen, who’s been all over DraftKings commercials and social media ads for the last few weeks, joined local leaders at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as mobile sports betting launched at noon on Monday. He made the state’s “ceremonial first bet” — $100 on Bubba Wallace to win the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

“It grows interest outside of just your one city or one market,” Olsen told reporters. “It allows you follow the game and have interest in all games — not just the Super Bowl, the marquee matchups — every week. Whether that’s NASCAR, whether that’s the NFL or NBA, whatever it is, I think everyone is quickly realizing it’s good business.”

Olsen sat alongside State Rep. Zack Hawkins, a Durham Democrat, and DraftKings and NASCAR representatives on Monday.

Hawkins emphasized the bipartisanship that allowed the legislature to make this happen. They realized that many people around the country, including North Carolina, were engaging in unsafe gambling and are confident that their plans promote responsible activity.

NASCAR’s plans to advance gambling with it live in its hometown

Over the past several years, NASCAR has seen an uptick of fans betting on Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series drivers to finish in top-three or top-five, along with picking certain drivers to win head-to-head matchups against one another.

Modern-day mobile sports betting is already pushing the sport into previously untapped markets. Many younger fans might not be watching an entire sporting event, let alone a NASCAR race, but will tune in to whatever action on which they have bets placed.

Starting its season with the Daytona 500 the week following the Super Bowl, running alongside March Madness before competing with Major League Baseball throughout the summer, NASCAR knows it has the opportunity to be a premier event on TV — especially in a market like Charlotte.

“There’s not a huge in-play offering for NASCAR right now — like in sports like MLB, where you can bet on the next pitch,” Joseph Solosky, NASCAR’s managing director of sports betting, said in an interview with The Charlotte Observer.
“What we’re looking at in NASCAR is breaking the race into five-, 10-lap chunks, where it’s: ‘Who’s gonna be the race leader for the next 10 laps?’ ‘Who’s gonna win this stage?’ It’s these shorter intervals of time where either you’re not invested in watching the full three-and-a-half-hour race, and you can maybe watch the first stage — and if you want to stay longer, then bet on the next stage.”
Shane Connuck