Gambling Legislation

North Carolina county fights against attempt to legalize casinos

There’s a rift in North Carolina over whether more casinos should be allowed

An estimated 500 residents of a North Carolina community targeted for a casino resort came out to oppose those actions this week. Rockingham County is among three that could be designated to host a commercial casino under the legislation, but it isn’t thrilled with the idea.

North Carolina Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) is currently writing a draft bill that could become law. The statute could soon be introduced by Berger or included in the forthcoming General Assembly budget bill.

A town hall was held Tuesday night at the Ellisboro Baptist Church in Madison, with crowds of Rockingham residents showing up to voice their opposition to the casino proposal. “Casinos are monuments honoring the exploitation of the poor,” said one attending resident. Another said, “We didn’t ask for a casino. We’re asking folks to respect what’s going on in our neighborhood.”

Berger and several other state lawmakers who support the legalization of commercial casinos have received campaign contributions from Cordish officials. Besides casinos, Cordish’s Live! brand offers dining, shopping, and entertainment districts in various states but has no venues in North Carolina.

Former congressman Mark Walker, who represented North Carolina in the US House, said, “What bothers me is the lack of transparency.” Also a Republican, Walker is planning a gubernatorial campaign against Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. He also lives in Guilford County in Greensboro, just south of Rockingham.

The rezoning request for the proposed Rockingham site will be up for a vote by the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners on August 21, with the presumption that it will be approved. In July, the County Planning Board voted 5-2 against the proposal while recommending the commissioners do the same.

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