Gambling Legislation

North Carolina county selected for casino wants final say

If NC moves forward with its casino legislation, Nash County wants to decide its own fate

North Carolina lawmakers are weighing legislation to allow one commercial casino in three counties, Nash, Anson and Rockingham. Should everything continue to move forward, the Board of Commissioners of Nash County wants a voice in the matter.

The Board voted 6-1 in favor of an ordinance asking the state to approve a local referendum on a proposed casino should state lawmakers legalize commercial gambling. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger is leading the effort on the belief that gambling revenue is leaving the state for casinos in Virginia. Berger is considering adding the gambling measure to the state legislature’s budget bill, which is the focus of the current extended session.

According to constituents, Nash County Commissioners who voted in favor of the local referendum should be entitled to have the final say on a casino, not state lawmakers. Commission Chair Robbie Davis says because he signed a nondisclosure agreement, he can’t divulge which casino developer was behind the project and who the other parties were at the meeting. Davis also agrees that Nash residents should have the decisive vote.

“It will be a controversial decision. I have found in my 21 years of being a commissioner that the fairest way of dealing with controversial items to your voters is giving them a chance to be involved with it,” said Davis.

Nash County must have state approval to hold a referendum. If state lawmakers approve a casino in the county, the recently-passed referendum by the Board of Commissioners would go to Raleigh, where state lawmakers would consider its approval.

Marvin Arrington was the only Nash County Commissioner to vote against the casino referendum, saying only voters in the casino’s host city should be allowed a referendum.

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