The ink of Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature turning North Carolina sports betting into law is barely dry, but already state legislative leaders in Raleigh are seriously considering another expanded gaming measure.
According to WRAL-TV, lawmakers have drafted a bill that would allow four casinos in the central and eastern parts of the state. One of those would be earmarked for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. The others would be located in Anson, Nash and Rockingham counties – areas of the state that are considered economically disadvantaged.
The state would put those three up for bid, with one company selected to operate all of them.
Whichever company wins would agree to invest $500 million in each site. Beyond the casinos, the measure could also legalize video gaming terminals run statewide by the lottery. Lawmakers have been discussing the expanded gaming measure while trying to work on a budget. The language could be included in the spending measure.
“I think if the votes are there, the anticipation is it would happen this year,” House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Kings Mountain, told reporters.
Why North Carolina Is Considering Casinos
The move to make North Carolina the 32nd state to host commercial casinos (the state is home already to three tribal casinos) comes as neighboring Virginia has opened gaming venues near the state line in Danville and in the Hampton Roads region.
Greater Carolina commissioned Spectrum Gaming Group to conduct a study. Among its findings was that Virginia casinos would likely generate nearly $260 million in gross gaming revenues from North Carolina residents each year.
Meanwhile, the same study estimated casinos in the three counties lawmakers are proposing could generate $1.68 billion in annual gross gaming revenue.
Lawmakers are considering a 22.5% tax on GGR, meaning the state could receive nearly $380 million in tax revenue each year.
It’s uncertain if the casinos would be eligible to host sportsbooks. The sports betting law does not mention commercial casinos, although it does allow certain professional sports venues to partner with sports betting operators and host brick-and-mortar establishments.
When Could North Carolina Casinos Happen?
So, when could lawmakers consider a gaming bill, either as standalone legislation or as part of a budget agreement? Moore told reporters earlier this week that votes could occur the week of Aug. 7.
Under the draft legislation, the state would have a tight window to begin a search for an operator.
According to WRAL, the draft legislation calls for the state to release a solicitation by Sept. 1. Parties would have 60 days to submit their proposals, with the state having another 60 days to consider the offers.
Keep it here at BetCarolina for more updates ahead of the launch of NC betting apps.