Casino Expansion In NC Loses Steam But VLTs Still Have A Chance

Senate Leader Phil Berger will defer the question of NC casino expansion until at least next year. He has been one of the most vocal advocates for NC casino legislation. This year, however, he said he was “not intent on moving anything in particular” related to casinos during the state’s shortened April legislative session.

Despite that, House Speaker Tim Moore has indicated that Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), which had been tethered to casino legislation last year, may independently move forward this year.

Recent North Carolina casino legislation has called for the development of three commercial casinos as parts of larger “entertainment districts” in three of the state’s most economically disadvantaged counties.

NC Casino legislation delayed 2023 budget

During the extended legislative session last year, a standoff between the different legislative chambers of North Carolina caused a two-month delay to the $30 billion state budget. July 1 was the deadline to pass the budget, but it was early October before it passed.

Senator Berger had initially championed the cause of introducing more casinos to the state. As the Republican-controlled Senate’s leader, Berger made many advances to realize the addition of more casinos to NC. He went as far as setting a stake in the ground that the authorization of thousands of VLTs and casino legalization must be included in the state budget.

However, the House did not share his passion for including casinos in the state budget. Speaker Tim Moore stated on record that there needed to be more votes to approve casinos in the state budget. Additionally, residents voiced their opposition to casino development. House Democrats back the opposition. Many of these residents were also from Berger’s home county of Rockingham.

Berger has argued that statewide casino legalization would prevent neighboring states from eating into North Carolina’s potential casino revenue. Incidentally, the Danville Casino, around 20 miles from Rockingham, benefits greatly from North Carolina traffic.

Berger believed proponents had ignored potential revenue and job benefits to rural counties. “It was just pretty clear that the facts were almost beside the point as to what those proposals will do for rural areas,” he said.

Support for VLTs remains while casinos will have to wait another year

When asked if Berger expected legislation on casinos or VLTs to resume, he stated that the interest had shifted to finding different options for revenue sources for the state. “I am not pursuing any particular action,” he said. “Obviously, if other folks decide that it’s something they want to pick up and move with, we’ll see what happens with that, but I certainly am not intent on moving anything in particular.”

Berger said that the development will require a much longer runway than the time available in the short session.

In the House chambers, Moore stated that there had been greater discussion around VLTs than about casinos. The NC General Assembly had previously estimated that legalizing VLTs could net the state upwards of $400 million a year in tax revenue.

In the end, the abbreviated legislative session may just not be enough time to seriously consider any further legal gambling expansion in the state. North Carolinians will in all likelihood have to wait until 2025 for the next strong push to expand legal gambling in the state.

About the Author

Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro is a sports betting writer at NCSharp. With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specializations include soccer, football, basketball, tennis and esports betting.