Gambling Expansion Debates Stall North Carolina Budget Discussions

Gov. Roy Cooper is displeased with the legislature's inability to pass a budget

A debate over gambling expansion has stalled budget discussions in North Carolina. 

“At this point, the only way the House can pass a budget is if it does not include gaming in it,” House Speaker Tim Moore told the local media

According to Moore, there isn’t enough widespread support from House Republicans for casino or video lottery terminal expansion. Some lawmakers hoped the budget would include provisions that would allow for commercial casino expansion across the state. Currently, the state only has tribal casinos. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger voiced frustrations to the media over House Republicans not supporting legal casino expansion. Moore told local reporters that casino expansion could become a standalone bill rather than a budget inclusion, but Berger wasn’t pleased with that idea. 

“I believe that House leadership needs to live up to its commitments,” Berger said. “The budget, as you know, is a series of compromises. If the compromises that have been reached in the past fall apart, then I think everything is subject to further conversations.”

Governor’s stance

Gov. Roy Cooper, who supported the state’s mobile sports betting expansion earlier this year, is frustrated with the budget stalemate. 

“It’s outrageous that casinos alone are holding up the entire state budget,” Cooper posted on social media Wednesday. “It’s holding up investments in our public schools, health care and mental health, law enforcement, state employees and community colleges, and it’s wrong.”

Mobile sportsbooks are expected to go live in North Carolina during the first half of 2024. After legislation passed this session to legalize mobile sports betting, some legislators began advocating for additional gambling expansion. 

There’s been a steady push for casino expansion, and Rep. Jason Saine even published an opinion piece calling for the legalization of mobile casinos

Despite some legislators strongly backing casino growth, there’s a contentious divide among legislators over the future of gambling in North Carolina. That divide has made the state’s budget approval timeline uncertain, leaving powerbrokers like the governor frustrated.

Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images


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