Casino Expansion Is A Hot Topic For NC Voters—Gubernatorial Candidates Weigh In

Casino expansion has emerged as one of the focal issues of the upcoming general elections in North Carolina.

Recently, The News & Observor questioned NC Gubernatorial candidates who shared their perspectives on North Carolina casinos.

Many elaborated on possible legislative paths for 2024 and beyond. Attorney General Josh Stein and Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, the top two candidates on the ballot, expressed caution towards casino expansion.

Democratic candidates have varying stances toward casino expansion

Of the democratic gubernatorial candidates who shared their views, Attorney General Josh Stein has advocated for diversified economic growth. He currently has a healthy lead–capturing 31% of decided voters over Mike Morgan’s 4%–in the most recent gubernatorial polls.

His focus is a strategy that prioritizes investments in clean energy and infrastructure and creates well-paying jobs across rural areas. Stein believes these areas of governance will provide more significant long-term benefits to residents of North Carolina than casino expansion.

His party colleague Mike Morgan has taken a stronger anti-casino stance. Morgan cites concerns about the sustainability of casino development, especially in rural communities. He advocates for alternative economic plans, prioritizing sustainable growth and accessible community prosperity.

Democratic candidate Marcus Williams acknowledged the state’s fiscal challenges. He also pointed out that the Republican majority is weakening future revenue by providing tax breaks to the super-wealthy. He has taken a more balanced approach by stating that he will support casino legislation while closely monitoring any harmful effects the developments may have on state residents.

Republican candidates divided over casino legislation

Republican candidate and current Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, believes in dedicating time and effort to evaluating casino legislation’s potential economic and social impact.

He stated that elected officials must hear the people’s voices before making decisions. Robinson also holds a commanding lead over other Republican candidates in the most recent polls.

On the other hand, Dale Folwell explicitly stated that he is 100% opposed to any casino legislation in the state. He mentioned that he was never in favor of casino legislation in the past. He says that would not change if he were elected governor of North Carolina.

Libertarian candidates hold true to form on casino expansion

The two libertarian candidates, Shannon Bray and Mike Ross, took a stance characteristic of their party.

Bray stated that he does not believe that the government should be involved in banning things.

Ross said he’d consider the merits of the actual bill and whether it was connected to any form of political grift. Ross’s perspective could arise from last legislative session’s uncovering of the extensive reach that a Maryland-based casino developer had in the state.

The complexities of North Carolina casino legislation in 2024

Despite the spectrum of stances on the subject, the current legislative landscape for casino expansion remains nebulous. No specific bills regarding casino expansion have been filed for consideration before the upcoming legislative session, and Senate leader Phil Berger has indicated that he will not file any casino legislation in the  2024 legislative session.

Moreover, the two candidates who will almost certainly remain front runners in the upcoming gubernatorial election, Stein and Robinson both advocate caution around the push for casino expansion.

One key factor influencing the proposition of casino legislation is the shortened length of the upcoming legislative session, scheduled to begin in April. The shorter session may impede any meaningful discussions on casino legislation. Due to the contentious nature of the subject, those conversations become more challenging. Since 2024 is an election year, lawmakers will likely remain cautious about introducing controversial topics that may impact future electoral prospects.

Historically, North Carolina has always approached gambling-related issues cautiously. The state has proven to move slowly on adopting new measures outside of state and tribal-run lotteries and casinos. Candidate responses highlighted the range of issues currently occupying North Carolina lawmakers.

Despite the likelihood that casino legislation remains tabled until at least 2025, recent surveys show that a growing majority of North Carolinians support casino expansion. Moreover, NCSharp has shown that commercial casinos in North Carolina would boost property values in the counties where they would be built.

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.