Gambling Legislation

After much fanfare, North Carolina’s gambling expansion is stalling

After much fanfare, North Carolina's gambling expansion is stalling

More lawmakers don’t believe a gambling expansion initiative will survive the year

Republican leaders continued closed-door negotiations to expand legalized gambling in North Carolina on Monday afternoon. However, there’s no indication whether the language, which has yet to be publicized, will be part of the $30-billion state budget schedule to pass the General Assembly later this week.

The budget includes tax cuts and raises for teachers and state employees and has been delayed by the gambling issue. Medicaid expansion would also be included in the budget, providing taxpayer-funded healthcare to hundreds of thousands of people in the state and boosting the local hospital industry. The conservative House Freedom Caucus met privately on Monday with top House and Senate leadership.

One of the legislature’s strongest supporters of gambling expansion, Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger, met with the group for about an hour, saying afterward that he had answered many of the caucus members’ questions regarding the proposal. “No promises, no threats,” he added. If the budget passes with the added gambling legislation, Berger’s Rockingham County district would construct one of the four proposed casinos.

Sixty-one votes are needed to pass legislation in the 120-member House, which Moore has said for several weeks would come to the floor after it gains support from at least half of House Republicans.

The Democratic minority in North Carolina’s legislature hasn’t been part of the negotiations. Gov. Roy Cooper said on Monday that he hasn’t seen the Republican budget proposal and that gambling legislation should be separate from the state budget.

“I don’t yet know what is in this budget. A lot of rank-and-file members of the legislature don’t yet know what’s in this budget,” said Cooper. “We’re not sure [our position on it]. I will let you know as soon as I’ve had a chance to read it.”

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