Gambling Legislation

North Carolina lawmakers considering new casino legislation

North Carolina lawmakers considering new casino legislation

Lawmakers realized that expanding the casino market needs a dedicated initiative

A new North Carolina casino expansion draft bill being considered by lawmakers would authorize four licensed casinos in the state, with one license reserved for the Lumbee Tribe, which the federal government doesn’t recognize under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The other three licenses would be reserved for “rural counties on the state border and along major transportation corridors,” according to the draft.

Republican lawmakers behind the proposal previously targeted Anson, Rockingham and Nash counties as likely locations, with many communities in these areas opposing the idea. The new bill doesn’t cite any possible sites for the new casinos. Three casinos are currently operated in North Carolina by two federally recognized Indian tribes.

Lawmakers drafted the new bill after Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) was unsuccessful in an attempt to add the casino proposal to the state budget. Many lawmakers were concerned that the casino issue dispute was delaying a vote on the $30 billion budget plan, which should have been approved in July.

The bill’s authors say it aims to “encourage and promote tourism in rural counties” and illustrate gaming as a “new and expanding component of the tourism industry.”

“As many contiguous states allow gaming, those industry business opportunities and employment opportunities are being lost to this State,” the legislation proclaims.

North Carolina has traditionally been conservative regarding gambling and was the last state in the eastern US to approve a lottery. However, local officials and residents from affected communities must give their support before a plan is forwarded to the Secretary of Administration for approval.

Gov. Cooper slammed the effort as “the most brutally dishonest legislative scheme I’ve seen in my three-plus decades” in a statement on Saturday, adding, “People are right to be suspicious.”

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