Gambling Legislation

Casino debate in North Carolina creating budget problems

Casino debate in North Carolina creating budget problems

A casino initiative in the state is on life support and is holding up the budget

After discussions regarding North Carolina casinos were halted last week, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said he didn’t find the necessary votes needed among Republicans to advance with adding a gaming element to the state’s $30-billion budget bill. That has led to a standoff, with lawmakers who support the casino expansion effort stalling on budget talks.

Senate President Phil Berger is backing the effort to legalize commercial casinos in Rockingham, Nash and Anson counties after lawmakers passed sports betting legislation in June. Legislators continue to discuss the overdue 2023-25 budget. Berger’s push to include a casino provision into the budget saw opposition from local officials and residents in the proposed counties, causing some lawmakers to withdraw their support.

Unless 60 of the 72 House Republicans support the proposal, Moore has said he won’t move forward with the bill, stating last week that it became clear that the support wasn’t there. Berger says he has enough support in the upper chamber to approve the budget with gaming before sending it to Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) desk. He has blamed Moore for “moving the goalpost” in deciding whether to support adding casinos to the budget.

“I believe that House leadership needs to live up to its commitments,” said Berger. “The budget is a series of compromises.” However, there’s no guarantee that Cooper would sign the budget if it lands on his desk with the gaming bill. “I’ve said before that this is an issue that should be decided outside of the budget,” said the Governor. “It shouldn’t be holding up a budget that can help move the state forward, that’s for sure.”

A scheduled vote on the budget this week was postponed after the gaming issue caused an additional rift among lawmakers. Berger said yesterday that no timeline is set for when the budget could pass or even be up for a vote.

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