The push to legalize casino gaming in North Carolina this year may be hitting the skids. Tuesday afternoon, WRAL’s Brian Murphy tweeted a quote Gov. Roy Cooper gave Murphy’s colleague Travis Fain on his thoughts about including measures to allow casinos and video lottery terminals in this year’s budget.
“I have my doubts as to whether this is going to come about,” the governor said. “There doesn’t seem to be agreement right now. What we need to do is to see it. This is the kind of thing that should be run separately. It should not be in the budget.”
Cooper’s comments come a day after the Associated Press reported House Speaker Tim Moore indicating there was no gaming language in the current version of the budget state lawmakers were trying to hammer out, nor were there any other agreements in place.
Previously, reports indicated lawmakers were progressing toward a plan that would allow four casino resorts in North Carolina and video lottery terminals to be placed statewide.
The Democratic governor, who signed a bill earlier this year fully legalizing sports betting in North Carolina, could veto a budget that included expanded gaming or a separate bill allowing casinos and VLTs.
Republicans, who have large majorities in both the state House and Senate, could move to override those vetoes.
Campaign Contributions Have Raised Flags
But besides Cooper’s comments, reports published in the last week showed North Carolina lawmakers have received thousands of dollars for their campaign accounts from a development company with gaming properties and an Illinois-based VLT provider.
Those reports have helped quell momentum that had been building in recent weeks as legislative leaders were working out details on the state budget.
Prior to the campaign contributions being revealed, Moore had told reporters he thought the legislature might look to expand gaming this year if it had enough support in both chambers.
Virginia Casinos Putting Pressure On Carolina
The talk about commercial casinos in North Carolina is heating up thanks to developments in neighboring Virginia. Casinos in Danville and Portsmouth opened this year near the state's border.
According to draft legislation BetCarolina.com has reviewed, lawmakers are considering allowing four casinos in the state. One would be awarded to the Lumbee Tribe, which could build a casino in one of 10 counties in the southeastern part of the state.
The state would then award the other three to one entity to invest at least $1.5 billion in building casinos in Anson, Nash and Rockingham counties. In addition to the investment, the winning bidder would also guarantee the casino resorts would employ at least 1,750 people in each of the
The state would tax casino revenues at 22.5%, and the casinos could face penalties for not meeting investment or job creation goals.
Visit BetCarolina frequently for the latest gaming news coming out of the state, including news on upcoming NC sports betting apps.