With online sports betting on the way sometime in 2024, North Carolina House Republicans will meet today in caucus to decide if further gambling expansion, in the forms of commercial casinos and video lottery terminals (VLTs), will be included in the state’s budget bill.
House Speaker Tim Moore and his colleagues are set to discuss adding North Carolina commercial casinos to the state budget Tuesday. The proposal that originated in the Senate would allow video lottery terminals and commercial casinos in the state.
“There’s been no determination made whether the gaming legislation will or will not be in the budget,” Moore told reporters recently. “It is something we’re going to discuss in our caucus. When we come back, we’re going to be caucusing over this issue before the week that we take the vote.”
Three commercial casinos built by a single developer
Currently, North Carolina’s three casinos are tribal-owned. Moore and other GOP members of the legislature are pushing to have at least three non-tribal-owned casinos in the state and to also allow the Lumbee Tribe to own a gambling facility on their land in southeastern North Carolina. While the Lumbee Tribe is not a federally recognized tribe, House Speaker Tim Moore sees it as a non-issue because “it’s entirely a state licensure agreement.”
The proposed sites of the commercial casinos would be Anson, Nash and Rockingham counties with a single developer for all three sites and an investment of $1.5 billion across the three sites.
The three casinos would be constructed as part of entertainment districts that would also include retail shops, hotels and restaurants.
Update: While House Republicans meet in caucus, citizens assembled outside the state legislative building on Tuesday to speak out against casino expansion.
Video lottery games also in the mix
While video lottery terminals are illegal in the state, there are places in North Carolina where similar games operate illegally. These fish games are casino-like arcade machines that resemble slots. Under the House GOP proposal, video lottery terminals would become legal and taxable, bringing revenue to state coffers.
Support for legalizing online and retail gambling is not a partisan issue as there are supporters and opponents on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, touts the jobs and economic benefits of legalizing commercials and video lottery terminals.
If the expanded gambling proposal gains headway Tuesday, it could end up on the state budget that is set to be ready for votes in the legislature on Sept. 12.
An NCSharp survey from July found that 45% of all respondents support casino expansion in the state while only 29% oppose it.
Mobile sports betting regulations on the way
Mobile sports betting regulations will be ironed out in the coming months. Online gambling in the state can begin as early as Jan. 8 with a launch deadline of June 14.
Last week the NC Lottery Commission announced a partnership with gambling testing and certification company Gaming Labs International to assist in the sports betting rollout.
Image Credit: AP