Sen. Phil Berger was one of the strongest proponents of adding a few casinos in rural counties across the state as a way to boost tax revenue. He told the local media after the effort for 2023 expansion failed that he’s still optimistic about future expansion.
“I continue to believe that the arguments for doing what we were proposing are still good arguments, and I will continue to do what I can to try to move that forward,” Berger told CBS 17.
Continued retail efforts
North Carolina has operational tribal casinos, but possible revenue creation was a key driver for the desire to add commercial casinos in the state. Some legislators were inspired to move forward with casino expansion after watching North Carolina residents leave the state to visit a casino in Danville, Virginia.
Caesars Virginia generated $19.6 million in adjusted gaming revenue and $3.5 million in tax revenue in August, with the casino serving as a popular destination for North Carolina residents.
It’s likely that some legislators, including Berger, will again be adamant about casino expansion in 2024. Industry stakeholders anticipate the push for retail casino expansion will eventually cross the finish line, even if it takes a few years.
“Once a gaming debate begins, it does not end until there is success for the gaming industry,” Joseph Weinert, the executive vice president of the Spectrum Gaming Group, told the News & Observer.
Online casino push
“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 in the article.
North Carolina’s mobile sports betting market will go live in the first half of 2024. It’s possible that a successful mobile sports wagering launch could persuade some legislators to support the eventual inclusion of legalized online casino platforms in the state.
Saine, who played a key role in moving sports betting legislation forward, is among the legislators eager for online casino gaming to come to North Carolina. While some gambling expansion efforts fell short in 2023, the discussions aren’t expected to leave the Tar Heel State anytime soon.
Photo: Getty Images