Casino Talk Shouldn’t Slow North Carolina’s Sports Betting Progress

It’s becoming a big year for gambling expansion in North Carolina. The state is already trying to legalize sports betting, and now some lawmakers could introduce a new push to bring commercial casinos to the state.

North Carolina already has three tribal casinos but doesn’t have any that traditional gambling companies own. New competition next door from Virginia is stirring up support to change that.

Despite that, casino efforts shouldn’t derail the progress that North Carolina sports betting has already made.

Commercial casinos in North Carolina

There’s a real chance state senators might try to add casinos to North Carolina’s gambling lineup this year.

The potential push has been a long time in the making. Things are gaining momentum thanks to North Carolina’s northern neighbor.

Virginia is underdoing casino expansion of its own.

The state has already given the green light to a handful of commercial casinos locations in Danville, Bristol, Portsmouth and Norfolk. These locations are close to the North Carolina border, allowing them to attract plenty of bettors from both Virginia and North Carolina.

Because of that, some North Carolina lawmakers are starting to feel like the Tar Heel State is missing out. The argument is that if people are going to gamble at casinos anyway, why not keep that revenue and tax money within North Carolina?

Casinos are a separate issue from sports betting

The easiest way for lawmakers to push for casinos this year would be to introduce a new casino bill.

However, the timing for the state Legislature makes that easier said than done.

The state’s crossover deadline is Thursday. That’s the deadline for bills from the Senate to reach the House, and vice versa.

It isn’t realistic for a new bill to go through the entire process in time. Bills go through numerous committee hearings and rounds of debate before they make their way to the other chamber, and there isn’t much time left for a new casino bill to accomplish that.

The other way to get casinos into the mix this year would be to amend the state’s online sports betting bill. That bill is currently making its way through the Senate.

However, amending the sports betting bill to include casinos is even more unlikely than the chances of introducing a new standalone casino bill.

Simply put, sports betting and casinos are two completely different issues entirely. If a senator tries to amend the sports betting bill to add casinos, then it’s likely that that change would fail during its vote.

Lawmakers came painfully close to legalizing online sports betting last year. They’re not eager to derail the progress they’ve made in 2023.

Because of that, North Carolina casino hopefuls will have to wait until next year. With sports betting out of the way in 2024, that will open the door for lawmakers to focus on a casino push.

About the Author

Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.