With online sports betting expansion already coming to North Carolina in 2024, one developer, possibly signaling further casino expansion, has requested rezoning property in Rockingham County.
A company called NC Development Holdings has requested that 200 acres of land zoned residential/agricultural be rezoned for commercial use. Legal documents show the company is tied to a casino developer in Maryland named The Cordish Companies.
There are only three casinos in the state, which are operated by two tribal entities. North Carolina lawmakers, however, have not ruled out further casino expansion in North Carolina as part of codifying the state’s budget.
NC Development Holdings requests rezoning
In NC Development Holdings’ request to the secretary of state, there were no specific details on what it planned to do if its request was granted. Some concerns, however, have been raised by locals in the area, specifically regarding the property sitting next to an outdoor youth camp.
The camp, Camp Carefree, serves children with chronic illness and disabilities. Camp directors worry that if a casino were the ultimate plan for the rezoning, leveling the trees and excavating the land would take away the locale’s privacy and seclusion for the campers.
The property is located along U.S. 220 in the western portion of Rockingham County. One of the board of commissioners told CBS17 there are not likely to be any decisions made until the next board meeting Aug. 21.
A telling location for potential NC casino expansion
North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger serves Senate District 26, which comprises Rockingham County. Berger, a major proponent of gambling expansion in the state, is on the conference committee hammering out a new state budget, including the possible allocation of funding from casino expansion.
Rockingham County also sits 20 miles southwest of Virginia’s newest casino, the Danville Casino, a temporary tent casino put in place while the nearby Caesars Casino finishes development.
Berger claimed that in his visit to the Danville casino, 80% of the cars in the parking lot had North Carolina license plates.
Bleeding revenue into Virginia is not lost on Berger and other lawmakers who think the state should be doing more to keep gaming revenue in state.
Greater Carolina, a conservative group in North Carolina, released a Spectrum Gaming study that shared details on potential tax revenue from commercial casino expansion in three areas around the state, one of them being Rockingham County.
One key data point was that over $250 million in gross gaming revenue is being lost in the state right now from North Carolina residents playing at Virginia casinos.
What a potential NC Developments Holding venue could look like
The Cordish Companies’ website features information about work on resort venues, entertainment districts and gaming/casino building projects. The potential for a casino resort with entertainment, shops, lodging and more could make for a destination location.
The destination-style locations would result in greater tax revenue and more jobs and could boost the local economy beyond gaming tax revenue.
Such a destination resort would also significantly increase the amount and type of traffic in the area. This type of multi-purpose venue does fall in with the discussions happening at the capitol. House Speaker Tim Moore, commenting to reporters on recent casino-expansion debates in the Legislature, referenced four “entertainment districts” across the state.
Those districts have not been disclosed.
Potential for expanded gaming laws in 2023
Moore and Berger have been among the most vocal lawmakers leading the charge for casino expansion.
- Moore said lawmakers have considered casino and VLT bills, including the aforementioned designated “entertainment districts.” Online casino expansion for platforms such as BetMGM NC online casino, has not yet been publicly discussed.
- Berger told capitol reporters there is “better than a 50-50” chance that casino expansion in North Carolina could pass before the end of the summer.
Despite their support, major budget issues such as tax and Medicaid reform, education funding and jobs have legislators tied up discussing logistics. Rep. Jason Saine, the primary sponsor of House Bill 347 that legalized online sports betting this June and chairman of the budget conference committee, has given his support to casino expansion. He stressed, however, that it’s not going to happen until lawmakers know “what it looks like.”
As it stands, the biggest holdup to including casino expansion in the budget is not support for the initiative. It’s a roadmap.