Gambling Legislation

North Carolina lawmakers advance casino bill

The bill has been kept under wraps, probably because it would only authorize one operator

North Carolina may give the right to develop three casinos across the state to only a single business, according to a draft of the legislation received by WRAL News. Under the proposal, Anson, Nash and Rockingham counties would be authorized to permit casinos. A fourth casino location is also proposed to be run by the Lumbee Tribe in the state’s southeastern region.

Lawmakers haven’t released the bill’s language publicly, but they have examined the proposal’s main points. The draft bill obtained Thursday confirmed much of what legislative leaders have conveyed, offering more specifics on the state’s bid to expand legal gambling.

Dated July 11, the draft bill doesn’t list the proposed counties. Still, it details the standards for those eligible, including being located east of I-77, a border county or one crossed by I-95, with a population of less than 100,000 and included as one of the 40 poorest counties in the state.

The bill requires the secretary of administration to start accepting proposals by September 1 from businesses with at least ten years of experience in commercial gaming that are willing to spend a minimum of $1.5 billion in private money (at least $500 million at each location) and plan to add a minimum of 5,250 jobs.

House Speaker Tim Moore said the House received the draft from the Senate on Wednesday, which has been conveyed to House leadership. Earlier in the legislative session, lawmakers gave the thumbs up to mobile sports betting, which won’t launch in the state until at least January.

The draft bill doesn’t require citizens in the communities where the casinos are proposed to vote on a referendum. However, Senate leader Phil Berger said the bill would permit local authorities to have input and that lawmakers have contacted the elected leaders of those communities.

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