North Carolina officials announced during a news conference on Tuesday that they have rejected a bill that would have expanded gambling in the territory of the state. An agreement has been reached to pass the state budget, which will also cover Medicaid. The state budget bill had been set to pass as of July 1, but it was subject to delays resulting from negotiations surrounding the gambling proposal.
Despite the push from multiple GOP lawmakers, including senate leader Phil Berger, to expand legal gambling and open non-tribal casinos that would add to the state’s selection of legal gambling venues, the vast majority of Republican and Democratic party members were against the proposal. Moreover, residents of the counties that were cited as possible locations for future casino establishments also opposed the gambling bill. There are currently no plans to advance the casino proposal, according to Berger, but he did add that the matter could potentially be addressed again in 2024.
Tim Moore, Speaker of the NC House of Representatives, noted that officials had ultimately decided that one issue should not lead to further delays of the budget.
What was seen as priority by Governor Roy Cooper and the Dems was Medicaid. According to officials of the Democratic Party, the push to tie gambling legislation to Medicaid infringed on the Medicaid bill signed by Cooper this spring.
Berger Was Strongly in Favor of Opening New Casinos in North Carolina
Senate leader Phil Berger was at the forefront of the advocacy for the proposed expansion of North Carolina gambling. Discussions regarding an expansion to the gaming laws in North Carolina began in June, with Berger pointing to a Caesars casino in the Virginia town of Danville, set to open in 2024, as one of the major reasons gambling expansion would benefit North Carolina. The casino’s location is near the border between the two states, which would lead to North Carolina-based gamblers crossing over to the neighboring state and result in losses of tax money.
Had the bill come to pass, four casinos could have opened in several locations across the North Carolina state. The proposed locations were Anson, Nash, and Rockingham. A casino that would have been operated by the Lumbee tribe had also been put into consideration.
On Tuesday, Berger said that the rejection of the gambling bill was not done with consideration for the benefits additional gambling establishments would have had for the rural counties deemed to be suitable locations for the expansion. According to Berger, it was emotions and not facts that permeated discussions surrounding the proposal. He also noted that the bill would have generated over 5,000 job positions in the state.
State officials of both chambers who were against the bill were pleased with the outcome, however. Wake County Democrat Jay Chaudhuri made a statement on a social media post where he said that House and Senate Dems were united on the matter regarding casinos and the expansion of Medicaid. He continued:
“Today, we showed the state why Dems still matter.”
John Rustin of the North Carolina Family Policy Council praised the legislators who “stood their ground” and protected North Carolina from the gambling industry and gambling addiction.