Counties Take Action On North Carolina Casino Expansion

Residents and officials in Nash, Anson and Rockingham counties, where a legislative proposal targets building a casino in each county, are acting quickly to address the potential expansion.

The counties are taking action despite comments from House Speaker Tim Moore and Gov. Roy Cooper that casino expansion is not in a state budget proposal and ought not to be included.

Anson County Manager Len Sossamon told WCNC-TV that the Anson County budget will include $550 million for casino expansion.

After lawmakers chose to leave casino expansion out of this year’s sports betting law, the sudden momentum casinos gained through budget talks has caused residents and officials in all three counties to earnestly address North Carolina casino expansion head-on.

Casinos could give Anson County a much-needed boost

Sossamon said while he hasn’t seen the final language of the budget bill – indeed, no one has as lawmakers are still hammering out the details – lawmakers have assured him that casinos “will be” in the final budget.

If Sossamon is correct, this is the most definitive comment NCSharp has heard about casino expansion. Sossamon is operating on the assumption that it is correct and has allocated $550 million in the county’s budget to develop a casino.

While no site has been selected, county officials have focused on the western part of the county because of its proximity to Charlotte. The draft casino proposal stipulated that each of the three casinos should add at least 1,750 new jobs to the area, which are sorely needed in Anson County.

Sossamon has also fixated on the 40,000 motorists driving SR-74 every year.

“We’d like to have some of them stop, spend some time, spend some money,” he told WCNC.

The revenue generated by a new casino would be a vital restorative effort for a county that, as of the 2022 US Census, had a 21% poverty rate.

Rockingham protests casino expansion

A straight shot north from Anson County through Greensboro and up into Rockingham County paints the casino question in a different light.

A community meeting last week at Ellisboro Baptist Church turned into something resembling a public protest against casino expansion and the proposal to rezone nearly 200 acres of land in the western part of the county.

The church, which was packed full of mainly anti-casino advocates, voted down NC Development Holdings’ request to rezone 192 acres of land to commercial use, which would allow it to be developed into a casino.

Speakers at the meeting cited a litany of social woes, including human trafficking, crime and the negative impact on children, but they also implored county leaders to leave the decision up to a public vote.

Despite the vote, the decision will be left to the county commission, which met Monday.

At the county commissioners’ meeting, more people showed up from around the state to speak on casino expansion, a non-agenda item for this particular meeting. Speakers raised similar concerns about casino expansion. Sam Page, Rockingham County sheriff, left the commissioners with the following benediction:

“I ask you to be transparent, truthful and upfront about your decisions, because there is a lot of conversation that’s going around that gets me concerned as a sheriff, and I’ve investigated a lot of cases. I will tell you this, I am going to pray for you. I am going to hope you are going to listen to the people. We are a government of, for and by the people, let’s listen to the people.”

The commission is set to vote on rezoning the land in Rockingham County on Aug. 21.

Sen. Leader Phil Berger, a lawmaker heavily invested in casino expansion, represents Rockingham County and received campaign donations from The Cordish Cos., a Maryland casino developer tied to NC Development Holdings.

Nash County seconds putting casino question to a vote

To the east of Rockingham County, a similar debate has unfolded in Nash County.

A week and a half ago, the county Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to leave the question of casino expansion in Nash County to a public vote.

Commissioners expressed favorable and critical opinions on casino development in the county, but the overriding principle that the question should be up to the voters won out. As such, a voter referendum could be placed on the next county election ballot in March 2024.

A Nash County casino would likely go near Rocky Mount, the county’s largest city. As the easternmost locale proposed under the North Carolina draft casino bill, a Rocky Mount casino would be the closest in-state option for most of the coastal Carolina community.

Lawmakers keep the door closed on casino details

While casino language has not been included in the state’s current budget proposal, Berger indicated to WRAL-TV that “closed-door talks” are still ongoing among Republican lawmakers.

Budget discussions have drug on more than a month past the start of the state’s fiscal year, and delays due to holidays and conferences and ongoing disputes over key issues mean that it might not be over soon. A spokesperson for Speaker Moore told reporters Monday that a resolution may not be reached until September.

Despite not giving specifics on what’s been decided behind closed doors, Moore told reporters that casino talks are “moving in the right direction.”

NCSharp recently surveyed North Carolina residents, and 45% supported casino expansion, while 29% opposed it, and 26% remained indifferent. There is currently no momentum toward the legalization of mobile apps such as a DraftKings online casino in NC.

About the Author

Tyler Andrews

Tyler is the Managing Editor for, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Tar Heel State. He has also covered similar topics for PlayTexas, PlayGeorgia, PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is North Carolina’s pathway to gaming legalization.