North Carolina Casino Effort Runs Into A Snag

Date IconLast Updated: Aug 2nd, 2023
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North Carolina Casino Effort Runs Into A Snag
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Following the state’s successful legalization of mobile sports betting, a strong push is underway to expand the state’s gambling footprint further and bring commercial casinos to North Carolina

With the state’s budget talks moving at a snail’s pace, lawmakers have extra time and a little negotiating power to sell pet projects, and one of those projects is commercial casinos. Per sources, a deal is in the works, but there is no guarantee the talks won’t drag on for weeks or even months. 

However, the latest from the Tar Heel State indicates gambling will not be part of the budget.

Per local reporting, House Speaker Tim Moore said, “There is also currently no language in the consensus budget or in any other separately reached agreement that would authorize potentially up to four casinos and video lottery machines statewide.”

Casinos in North Carolina

Currently, only recognized tribes offer casino gambling in the Tar Heel State, and those casinos are far outside major population centers. Supporters point to the revenue, jobs and economic impact these casinos will have, as well as the dollars flowing out of North Carolina to neighboring states, which will likely grow when a Caesars casino opens its doors in Danville, Virginia – the site currently boasts a 40,000 square foot temporary casino while construction continues on the $650 million project. 

The latest effort would authorize up to four casinos, commercial casinos in the counties of Anson, Nash and Rockingham, and one on tribal lands operated by the currently unrecognized Lumbee Tribe. The tribe would become a commercial casino operator under the legislation, but if successful, efforts in Congress to federally recognize the tribe would allow the Lumbee to operate as a tribal casino operator. 

The measure also addresses another thorny North Carolina gaming issue, video gaming terminals or VGTs. 

Not a Good Look

Like most gambling issues, the legalization of non-tribal casinos in North Carolina is on a razor’s edge. And the state may have just fallen off. Per local reporting, “Campaign committees of at least eight lawmakers received a total of $34,400 from at least four donors linked to The Cordish Cos. from November 2022 to March 2023.” While these campaign contributions are perfectly legal, the optics appears to have derailed the casino bill this year as the pay-for-play narrative could easily be used against the named lawmakers in next year’s election.