North Carolina Lawmakers Weigh Pros and Cons of Casino Expansion

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The picture shows North Carolina state capitol building in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Imagen taken from North Carolina State Capitol official Facebook page.

There are three tribal casinos in North Carolina and no commercial casinos but that could change as lawmakers are debating the merits of bringing retail gaming to the Tar Heel State, along with the potential introduction of other North Carolina gambling sites

Budget Boost 

It has been proven that casinos bring revenue, jobs, and often prosperity to the regions in which they are located. The gaming dens also bring tax revenue to municipalities and the state government which is why North Carolina legislators are considering commercial casinos, unlike the tribal casinos that are exempt from cutting the taxman into their profits. 

The subject has cropped up before but it is now front and center again as budget talks loom and tapping a new revenue stream would ease some of the fiscal concerns legislators have about pay increases for teachers and state employees as well as billions in healthcare for lower-income residents. The government itself and projects all across North Carolina will need funding as well. 

But the specter of a financial golden goose is on the horizon, and in a year when the personal income tax dropped from 4.99% to 4.75%, it would be a much easier fix than raising taxes on the constituency that voted these politicians into office. 

Push for Full Gambling Expansion

However, Representative Jason Saine minces no words as to where he stands on gambling expansion in the state. Saine is not only pro-casino but wants to bring iGaming, or online casino gambling, to North Carolina.  

“My fellow lawmakers continue to debate what gaming expansion looks like, but limiting this discussion to just brick-and-mortar casinos is a lot like building new movie theaters without allowing people to stream movies on their mobile devices,” Saine wrote. 

And with the advent of online sports betting coming to the state next year, Saine believes now is as good a time as any to go full throttle and create several gaming industry revenue streams. 

Saine added, “Industry experts project that full iGaming would yield nearly $300 million annually for the state – creating a new, reliable revenue stream that broadens the tax base and aligns with the smart fiscal policy the General Assembly has worked diligently to maintain. What’s more, the state would realize iGaming’s tax revenue almost immediately, as opposed to waiting several years for brick-and-mortar casinos to open.” 

Not Everyone’s a Fan 

Naturally, there is opposition to commercial casinos from those who live in the districts where they are expected to be built. Moreover, conservatives living in the heart of the Bible Belt are not thrilled with the idea either. Approximately 50 protestors holding “Keep Our Community Great” placards congregated outside the Legislative Building while pro-gambling lobbyists also met. 

“This is not about politics. This is about people. This is about the next generation. Our kids today have enough bad things on their doorstep,” said Joni Robbins, a real estate agent from Nash County. “If you mess with our kids, we will vote you out.” 

Rockingham County Sheriff, Sam Page, who is also running for lieutenant governor next year, said, “Our representatives have the chance today to stand up and show that they represent their citizens in their respective counties by allowing our citizens to have a voice in the destiny and values in their communities where they live.” 

*Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and keep our readers updated as it unfolds.