Majority Of North Carolinians Favor Casino Expansion, Survey Shows

A new poll shows increasing support for commercial casino expansion in North Carolina.

A Meredith College poll released on Monday found that 54% of North Carolinians support the legalization of casinos on non-tribal land, while 35% oppose the idea and 9% remain undecided.

North Carolina state lawmakers have returned for a shortened legislative session this year after a 2023 session heavily impacted by casino expansion debates. Last year’s session concluded with Senate leader Phil Berger’s proposal to legalize four more casinos fizzling out.

If North Carolina approves its current casino expansion plans, NC casinos are expected to be built in Rockingham, Nash, and Anson counties, with the fourth North Carolina casino to be run by the Lumbee tribe. The proposal includes language to house the casinos within “rural entertainment districts,” which will contain hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, and other entertainment amenities.

Lawmakers see progress for casinos, other legal gambling options in NC

Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, sponsor of the state’s online sports betting law, alluded to discussions around legal gambling not being limited to legislative sessions. Lawmakers are expected to discuss legalizing video lottery terminals in bars and restaurants in parallel to the four planned legal casinos.

“It will remain a hot topic and certainly one that is marinating. I think VLTs, what we do with video lottery terminals, probably has a little more legs if it’s going to move in the short session,” he said in January. “I think both topics could be considered because it hasn’t been that long since we have been talking about them, and they’re fresh on people’s minds.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, remains open to the discussions around additional casinos but did not agree with Sen. Berger’s proposal to include casino expansion in the state budget. He, instead, would like to see it introduced as a standalone bill.

Cooper recently told reporters, “I’m open to looking at a fair, transparent process, one that is not predetermined. What we’re working on right now is making sure we get sports betting in place.”

Study Highlights broadly positive support for NC casino expansion

With 54% favoring and 35% against, the poll highlighted that only one-third of the respondents opposed the introduction of casinos on non-tribal land. Support for the reform remained consistent across many demographics in the study.

However, participants who self-identified as the most conservative residents of North Carolina did not support the legislation. This group forms less than half the total strength of the participant group.

“Most North Carolinians seem accustomed to all forms of gambling, so supporting casino gambling in the state does not seem unusual,” Meredith Poll Director David McLennan said. “We have the lottery and have just adopted online sports wagering in the state. Plus, many states, including those on the border of the state, now have casino gambling, so even citizens who might have had objections to casino gambling 20 years ago might be resigned to the fact that all forms of gambling is inevitable.”

Several demographics in favor of North Carolina casinos

Of the poll’s participants:

– 180 (24%) strongly support commercial casinos.

– 253 (33%) somewhat support them.

– 120 (16%) somewhat oppose them.

– 142 (19%) strongly oppose them.

– 65 (9%) remain undecided.

The 25-40 age group showed the strongest support for casino legalization, with 30.5% strongly supporting the initiative. On the other hand, the 76+ age group showed the most antipathy toward casinos, with 27.1% strongly opposing the initiative.

The various political groups in the survey expressed their varying degrees of support as follows:

Political AffiliationStrongly SupportSomewhat SupportSomewhat OpposeStrongly OpposeUndecided

The survey’s gender groups almost universally viewed the bill favorably:

GenderStrongly SupportSomewhat SupportSomewhat OpposeStrongly OpposeUndecided
Non-binary/third gender0.0%50%0.0%50%0.0%

While support or partial support for casino expansion showed up in the responses of most demographics, a considerable percentage of respondents (9%) remained undecided.

This outlook likely speaks to North Carolinians who don’t have a clear enough picture of what casino expansion in the state would look like. Community outreach from casino proponents and informational, non-polarizing media campaigns could do a lot of good for this segment.

Growing support among residents for NC casino expansion

The study highlights a favorable reception to commercial casinos in North Carolina. It also indicates that public support for casino expansion has grown in the last six months.

In August 2023, NCSharp conducted a similar study and found a slightly less positive outlook on NC casino expansion. When surveyed by NCSharp, 45% of the participants supported casino expansion, while 29% opposed it and 26% remained undecided.

The nine percent increase in public support from Aug. 2023 to Feb. 2024 highlights a positive shift in public opinion towards casino expansion in the state. As well, the lower percentage of undecided respondents in the Meredith College survey speaks to the increased attention casino expansion has received in the last six months.

More voters will become educated on casino expansion with every legislative cycle. As they do, we think they will understand that concerns about crime, seedines and moral depravity are unfounded.

Especially in promoting casino expansion in economically depressed areas like Rockingham, Anson and Nash counties, the effect on crime will likely be the opposite. Further, the introduction of resort casinos, as they have been sketched out in recent legislation, will surely be a boon for property values and community growth in these key areas.

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.