Lawmakers in the North Carolina Senate are currently deliberating on an expansion of gambling in the state. This comes after a recent House-approved legislation for sports betting, which is now awaiting action in the Senate. Advocates of the bipartisan House bill have been actively garnering support, with over 55 sponsors from the 120-member chamber.
While some forms of gambling, such as the Education Lottery and tribal casinos, are already legal in North Carolina, the proposed expansion aims to legalize additional forms of gambling that are currently not approved. This would eliminate the need for North Carolinians to travel across state borders for such activities.
The plan being considered includes the legalization of video lottery terminals (VLTs) statewide and the establishment of full-fledged casinos outside of Native American tribal land. “I keep hearing from them [Senators] that they want to take up VLTs and potential sites in Eastern North Carolina for casinos,” said Rep. Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincoln County, in an interview with WRAL earlier this month.
As per recent statements from Sen. Jim Perry, a Republican from Lenoir County, discussions about casino expansion in North Carolina have included considerations of the existing tribal casinos. Currently, there are three tribal casinos operating in the state, including two Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian casinos in the far-western region and a Catawba Indian casino along Interstate 85 near the South Carolina border.
Sen. Perry highlighted the interest from Eastern North Carolina residents, who have been talking about the lack of casinos in their region for years. “I’ve heard folks talk about it for years in Eastern North Carolina: Why is there just a casino in the western part of the state?” he said in a recent statement to WRAL. He also mentioned the potential for job creation as a factor worth considering in the ongoing conversations about casino expansion in the state.
Results of an Examination on Expanded Gambling Disclosed
A recent analysis conducted by Spectrum Gaming Group, commissioned by Greater Carolina, has studied the potential impact of three proposed casinos in Anson, Nash, and Rockingham counties in North Carolina. The report, titled “Gaming Market Analysis: Potential New Gaming Options in North Carolina,” estimates that the combined gross gaming revenue from these three casinos would be $1.6 billion.
According to the study, the development of these casinos could also result in a leakage of $259 million in gross gaming revenue from neighboring states, particularly from the potential casinos in Danville and Hampton Roads in Virginia, which were approved by Virginia lawmakers and voters in 2020.
The report suggests that Anson’s casino could attract visitors from South Carolina, while the Nash and Rockingham casinos could potentially draw in visitors from Virginia, Tennessee, as well as North Carolina residents.
Apart from casinos, the proposed gambling expansion in North Carolina would also include sports betting and video lottery terminals. Geofencing technology has revealed that North Carolina residents are currently crossing state lines to place online sports bets in other jurisdictions such as Virginia and Tennessee where it is legal.
While the gambling expansion is being considered, many details such as the exact timeline of legislation and the likelihood of plan approval remain uncertain. The study did not provide projected timelines for the potential casinos in the state.