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North Carolina Casino Expansion Debate Intensifies Amid Budget Discussions




North Carolina Casino Expansion Debate Intensifies Amid Budget Discussions

North Carolina lawmakers are making progress toward finalizing a budget, but the question of retail casino expansion remains unanswered. 

Lawmakers have looked into bringing four new commercial casinos to the state, which currently has only tribal casinos. While some North Carolina lawmakers support the possible revenue bump from casino expansion, not everyone is thrilled about the prospect. 

On Tuesday, while lawmakers held a closed-door meeting about gambling expansion, a group of opponents held a press conference to speak against casino growth. 

Anti-casino voices

The Associated Press reported that about 50 people gathered Tuesday to speak against legal casino expansion, with some residents sharing general concerns about the overall impact of gambling’s growing footprint in the state. 

Regulated sports betting expansion is coming soon, with legal mobile sportsbooks expected to go live in North Carolina in the first half of 2024. 

“This is not about politics,” said Joni Robbins, a Nash County resident. “This is about people. This is about the next generation. Our kids today have enough bad things on their doorstep. If you mess with our kids, we will vote you out.”

Another speaker voiced concern that casino expansion could tarnish Rockingham County’s “God-first” mentality and rural qualities. While various speakers addressed the media Tuesday, they did so while surrounded by numerous red signs that read, “Keep our community great. NO CASINO.”

Online casino expansion?

Earlier this week, Rep. Jason Saine wrote an opinion piece for the Charlotte Observer about the possibility of online casino legalization in North Carolina. Saine, who spearheaded the state’s mobile sports betting legalization push this summer, is a vocal supporter of iCasino legalization. 

“Industry experts project that full iGaming would yield nearly $300 million annually for the state – creating a new, reliable revenue stream that broadens the tax base and aligns with the smart fiscal policy the General Assembly has worked diligently to maintain,” Saine wrote.

While some residents argue against retail casino expansion, at least one legislator is eager for mobile casinos to come to North Carolina.

Photo: Getty Images

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