North Carolina Casino Expansion Likely Dead This Year

  • Not enough GOP House members support a budget that includes gambling
  • A plan to allow four casinos was proposed for the state budget
  • Senate Leader believes a standalone casino bill is unlikely this year
  • Rockingham County commissioners had approved rezoning for a casino
North Carolina greetings postcard
Efforts to include a casino expansion plan in the North Carolina state budget do not have enough Republican support. [Image:]

Not making it into the budget

Though earlier this summer it was thought that there was a solid shot for casino expansion in North Carolina, it now appears that it will not be happening this year. On Wednesday, House Speaker Tim Moore told fellow House GOP members there were not enough Republicans that would support a state budget if it included gambling expansion. And because Republicans would not pass a budget that didn’t have at least 61 Republican votes (a majority of the House membership), gambling will not be included.

Michael Hyland of Raleigh’s CBS 17 acquired Moore’s e-mail to his colleagues and shared it on X:

House Republicans met on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing proposal to authorize the construction of up to four casinos in the state. Moore did not have a read on whether or not there was enough GOP support at the time, but apparently he did a day later.

Standalone bill also doubtful

The proposal under consideration is to allow commercial casinos in Rockingham, Nash, and Anson counties, plus one more in the eastern portion of North Carolina to be operated by the Lumbee Tribe. The three casinos currently in operation in the state are all owned by Native American tribes. Harrah’s Cherokee features prominently in the poker scene; it will host multiple WSOP Circuit stops this season.

With it looking like it will not end up in the state budget, the next option is to introduce the plan as a standalone bill. In July, Senate Leader Phil Berger said he believed that there was a “better than 50/50” chance for casino expansion legislation to be passed this year.

either advance by being included in the budget, or not at all”

Now, though, he is not optimistic. According to The News & Observer, Berger believes that the casino plan will “either advance by being included in the budget, or not at all” and since Republicans won’t pass a budget that includes gambling, “not at all” seems to be the option.

Rockingham County made preparations

Like many states, the goal for casino expansion in North Carolina is to combat competition in neighboring states, Virginia, in particular. Virginia’s first commercial casino opened last year in Bristol and the second opened in Portsmouth this past January.

right across the border from Rockingham County

The third Virginia casino opened in Danville in May 2023, right across the border from Rockingham County, North Carolina. In an effort to keep local residents and their dollars from crossing into Virginia to gamble, county commissioners voted unanimously in August to rezone a 192-acre parcel of land for a future casino. The 5-0 vote was likely helped by the fact that Phil Berger’s son, Kevin, is one of the commissioners.

County residents swarmed to the Board of Commissioners meeting at which the vote was held to speak out in opposition to a casino. The primary point of contention was that the casino would be built next to Camp Carefree, a camp for children with special needs.

Eight state lawmakers also accepted donations from The Cordish Companies, which wants to build a Rockingham County casino and lobbied for the rezoning through NC Development Holdings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *