North Carolina commercial casino expansion talks have been put to rest, at least in the immediate future. Sen. Phil Berger told reporters Tuesday evening that the state budget will move forward without casino expansion language, and the hope for a separate legislative push for casinos has also been set aside.
“I do not see us voting on those at any point in the coming weeks,” Berger said.
Berger was among the North Carolina lawmakers previously pushing for casino expansion in the Tar Heel State. Currently, the state has operational tribal casinos, but some lawmakers were hoping for the creation of four additional legal casinos in rural counties.
Early this week, there was an expectation that legislation combining casino expansion and Medicaid expansion would be pushed forward. That push was strongly opposed by Gov. Roy Cooper, and that plan won’t move forward.
The budget does not include language to legalize video lottery terminals or casino apps either.
Berger still frustrated
While Berger ultimately agreed to let gaming expansion talks fizzle, he still sounded annoyed about North Carolina’s lack of upcoming commercial casino expansion when addressing the local press.
“There’s a whole lot of talk about helping out rural North Carolina, but when we have a proposal that actually would create over 5,000 jobs — good-paying jobs — in rural North Carolina, increase tax cuts in rural North Carolina, these same folks come out adamantly opposed to it,” Berger said.
Berger is particularly frustrated because North Carolina’s neighbor, Virginia, does have several commercial casinos.
There are currently three operational casinos in Virginia, including Caesars Virginia, which is located in Danville. That location, which sits close to the North Carolina border, has been thriving in part due to frequent visitations from North Carolina residents.
“The reality is, that money that is being spent in Virginia is still largely coming from North Carolina and will continue to do so,” Berger said.
Caesars Virginia reported $19.6 million of adjusted gaming revenue in August, creating $3.5 million worth of tax revenue.
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