CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Carolina Panthers have announced a big deal with a major North Carolina casino and it has people wondering if this is a gamble on sports betting in the state.
On paper, the sponsorship between Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and the Panthers is about naming rights, but it's what isn't on paper that has people wondering, specifically about the potential of sports gambling, which recently became legal in the state.
Both are considered economic engines for their respective areas. In Charlotte, there's the Panthers.
“We try to go as much as we can. We went to san Francisco to the game and we make a point of going several times every year,” Panthers fan Clark Spooner told FOX 46.
Then up in the mountains, there's Harrah’s. The combination of both could mean a whole lot more than just a name.
The casino now has a partnership and sponsorship of the Carolina Panthers which means their name will be featured prominently in the Champions Village and in the 5th Quarter post-game party.
For the Panthers, it means fans will get deals and prizes, but it does have fans and a few others talking.
“I feel like people are already spending money gambling on their own with the games anyway, so if it can benefit the team, it's a no brainer to me,” Spooner said.
There’s already talk of the deal involving sports gambling. It became legal in the state earlier this year, but only on tribal lands, like the Cherokee Indian Reservation in the far western mountains of the state.
Some are seeing this as the first 'in' on a venture that could mean more, especially in terms of competition.
The Catawba Indian Nation has been looking at their own tribal casino in Cleveland County which could mean sports betting could come there and possibly even to Rock Hill.
"It's an endeavor we've been working on for six years,” said Catawba Indian Nation Chief Bill Harris.
The city's planning commission signed off on a plan just this week for a possible casino down the line on the Panthers training camp property if it gets approved by the state of South Carolina.
“Anything that gets the fans more engaged in the team, I’m all for it,” Spooner said.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but you have to figure, a deal like this would be potentially worth millions to the Carolina Panthers and potentially millions more to the casino.