June 20, 2024

Republican leaders in North Carolina last year unsuccessfully tried to legalize commercial casino gambling after a faction of their party refused to get on board. The party gridlock could keep gaming talks out of the Raleigh capital this year.

North Carolina casinos legislation
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, who is running for Congress, once supported bringing Las Vegas casinos to the Tar Heel State. But after a legislative push failed last year, Moore thinks lingering “hard feelings” could derail future plans to legalize commercial slot machines and table games. (Image: The News & Observer)

The North Carolina legislative session began on April 24 and runs through the end of July. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), who initially supported Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger’s (R-Rockingham) push to tack on a casino amendment to the state’s 2023-25 budget bill last fall, says the discussions that ended in controversy could block further efforts to bring casino resorts to the Tar Heel State.

During the House’s recent consideration of a video lottery terminal bill that would allow VLTs in restaurants and bars, Moore said leftover “hard feelings” about how Berger’s casino drive played out could lessen support for more gaming.

I think the conversation last year as it related to casinos could overshadow the discussion about updates to the lottery with VLTs,” Moore said.

VLTs are slot-like gaming machines that calculate outcomes based on electronic lottery simulations typically facilitated by a centralized lottery system.

Casino Support Wanes

Moore rescinded his support for Berger’s casino bill, which would have created gaming licenses for the counties of Rockingham, Anson, and Nash, following pushback from his House Republican colleagues and the targeted communities. Despite public polling suggesting that state residents are ready to bring casinos to the state, House Republicans took issue with Berger seemingly striking a backroom deal with a casino company based in Maryland in crafting the budget bill pork.

Many House lawmakers opined that such a considerable change to North Carolina’s economy and society should be handled with more transparency. Berger’s tack-on would have given each of the three casino opportunities to The Cordish Companies, which operates Live!-branded casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Berger said the casinos would have generated regional economic activity and kept gaming money from flowing into Virginia where casinos continue to sprout up. But following his legislative defeat and threats from his supporters to finance a primary challenger to his 2024 reelection, Berger folded on his casino dreams.

The powerful Senate leader has since said he wouldn’t try again to pass casino legislation in favor of allowing the House to initiate the process.

“If there are folks who decide it’s something they want to pick up and move with, we’ll see,” Berger said in February. “But I am certainly not intent on moving [a casino bill].”

Moore Could Be Moving On 

Moore might not be around Raliegh much longer should his 2024 election go his way.

Moore is running for Congress by way of North Carolina’s newly drawn 14th District. His opponent is Democrat Pamela Genant, a former US Army first lieutenant, registered nurse, and home educator.

Moore has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who is seeking a second term in the White House in November. Trump narrowly edged Joe Biden by about 1.3% during the 2020 election. Moore is a heavy favorite against Genant.

The post Enthusiasm for Commercial Casinos in North Carolina Fades Among GOP Leaders appeared first on Casino.org.

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