Legislators are mulling North Carolina casino expansion, with state politicians drafting legislation to allow a single business entity to develop three casinos across the state, according to WRAL. The state currently has tribal casinos, but there’s a growing push among lawmakers for casino expansion in the Tar Heel State.
Under the proposed legislation, the business selected to operate the three casinos would need to commit $1.5 billion to the project, which would add at least 5,000 jobs in the state. The drafted legislation would have the state’s secretary of administration accept proposals by Sept. 1 from companies with at least a decade of commercial gaming experience. There’s also discussion among lawmakers about giving the Lumbee Tribe access to a fourth casino in southeastern North Carolina.
Casinos would pay an excise tax of 22.5% on gross gaming revenue, according to WRAL’s report.
Sen. Phil Berger told the media this week the expectation is that the creation of casinos leads to a larger economic impact in the host cities. Anson, Nash, and Rockingham counties would be eligible as host locations for casinos.
“It wouldn’t be just a standalone casino,” Berger said. “The idea would be that there would be a district that would include a casino, a hotel, possibly residential, commercial, office-industrial, and it would be sort of a package that would be developed. That’s at least the concept.”
Keeping pace with Virginia
Part of the push for expanded gambling in the state — legislators passed mobile sports betting during the 2023 session and a launch is expected in early 2024 — is keeping pace with neighboring states, namely Virginia.
Mobile sports betting is available across Virginia, with digital platforms launching in 2021. Virginia also has three retail casinos, with plans for another two to open over the coming years. Caesars Virginia, which recently opened a temporary location in Danville, is located near the North Carolina-Virginia border. The location attracted North Carolina visitors shortly after its opening.
The Danville casino location brought in $18.9 million in adjusted gaming revenue in June, its first full month of operation. Rivers Casino Portsmouth, which is also located close to the North Carolina border, generated $20.5 million in adjusted revenue in June.
While Tennessee, North Carolina’s neighbor to the west, has no retail casinos, mobile sports betting has been available in the state since late 2021.
Job creation — coupled with potential tax revenue generation for the state — makes casino expansion an intriguing possibility for some lawmakers in the Tar Heel State.
Online casino coming?
WRAL’s report says the drafted legislation didn’t include language related to video gaming terminals or video lottery terminals, but House Speaker Tim Moore said inclusion is on the table, per The News & Observer.
The local reports didn’t mention the possibility of the best online casinos setting up shop. iCasino has generally proven more lucrative than mobile sports betting for operators and state governments in jurisdictions where both are legal.
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