What We've Been Up To

Gambling.com plots Charlotte expansion as online sports betting takes off in NC, North America

By Erik Spanberg  |  Managing Editor  Charlotte Business Journal


Fueled by sports betting growth, Gambling.com Group (NASDAQ: GAMB) expects to nearly triple its Charlotte staff over the next several years.

The additional jobs come as North Carolina and North America continue to embrace online sports gambling. North Carolina legalized online sports gambling last summer and fans began placing bets March 11, just in time for March Madness. 

In North America, parts of Canada offer both affluent customers and a competitive landscape among licensed betting operators. And, as North Carolina’s example illustrates, states in the U.S. continue to legalize sports betting after a 2018 Supreme Court decision reversed a federal ban. More than half the states have some form of sports betting.

Charles Gillespie, a Charlotte native and co-founder of Gambling.com, spoke to CBJ in a video call interview from his home in Monaco. His co-founder and Providence Day and UNC Chapel Hill classmate, Kevin McCrystle, also previously lived overseas but now resides in Charlotte, home to the company’s North American headquarters.

Gambling.com operates 50-plus websites in the U.S., United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe, among others. 

The company makes money by analyzing and recommending online betting sites. When a new customer registers through Gambling.com with operators such as ESPN Bet or Fanatics, Gambling.com receives a percentage fee for delivering the customer and, depending on terms, a portion of the customer’s net gaming revenue (amount bet minus winnings). 

At an industry conference this year, Gillespie said those percentages of net gaming revenue can run as high as 50%.

It also provides referrals and industry recommendations that appear in USA Today and other publications, sharing revenue from readers who open sports betting accounts.

Gambling.com went public in 2021, two years after the company opened its first Charlotte office. It has flagship offices in Dublin and Malta. Gillespie said the office here is envisioned to be on a similar scale.

The company has 30 employees here and anticipates growing to 40 by the end of 2024.

“It’s certainly going to grow — I think we can do 70 or 80 people in this office, so, obviously, we wouldn’t have taken that much space if we didn’t plan on filling it up,” he said. “… It’s set to continue to grow materially.” 

Gillespie was referring to a 10,400-square-foot space at The Station at LoSo on South Boulevard. Gambling.com signed a lease for the space in January. Redline Design Group and PMC Commercial Interiors are the company’s consultants on the new offices.

In March, Gambling.com reported full-year 2023 results. Revenue increased to $108.7 million, or 42% higher than 2022. Net income rose to $18.3 million from $2.4 million, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew to $36.7 million from $24.1 million.

Company forecasts for the current year call for revenue of $129 million to $133 million and EBITDA of $44 million to $48 million. 

“It’s been a great couple of years since we listed the company,” Gillespie said.

Gambling.com has grown through acquisitions and expansion as well as increasing incremental sales and revenue.

In 2023, the company was helped in North America by three states starting sports betting: Kentucky, Massachusetts and Ohio. This year, North Carolina is the lone addition, a factor that will slow growth compared with 2023.

Gambling.com remains bullish, citing internal data that show growth of 30% last year without the additional states. North American revenue grew to $60 million from $7 million between 2021 and 2023, according to the company.

North Carolina’s first month of online sports betting generated $659 million, according to the N.C. State Lottery Commission, the governing body of sports betting in the state. That’s encouraging: The legislature’s Fiscal Research Division projected $6.9 billion in bets during the first full year of online sports betting.

The first-month results included several important factors. Operators ran heavy promotions to entice customers as sports betting began; the wager total includes $202.6 million in “promotional dollars” provided as incentives. Those promotions will lessen as sports betting becomes an established presence. In addition, betting activity ebbs and flows throughout the year depending on sport and season.

Gillespie thinks North Carolina’s betting launch was successful.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “It took 20 years longer than it should have, but we got there in the end. The regulatory framework is reasonable, there’s multiple operators, there’s a reasonable tax rate. They’ve launched in a timely manner. There’s a lot to like and be proud of.”

Gillespie added that he anticipates U.S. states will inevitably add online casino gaming, a much more lucrative business for operators. Meaning much bigger losses for players. It could take as long as a decade before states start approving online casino gambling, but Gillespie is convinced it will happen. 

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