Leaders of both chambers of the state legislature have said that a second major gaming expansion could be part of a budget compromise in North Carolina this year.
According to multiple local media reports, just weeks after legalizing online sports betting in the state, legislators say that a package that includes multiple land-based casinos and legalized video lottery terminals (VLTs) is part of the budget conversation.
Under the plan, the casinos would be termed “entertainment districts,” with four properties being built, one of which would be run by the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore told Raleigh-based television station WRAL Thursday (July 20) that “if the votes are there, the anticipation is that it would happen this year.”
"There's a decent amount of support for it in the caucus, both for the entertainment district as well as the VLTs," Moore said, adding that the “entertainment districts” would include development beyond the casino.
Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, a Republican, said last week that the chances of an expanded gaming package clearing the legislature were “better than 50-50,” according to the Associated Press.
“It’s a serious discussion,” he said. “The gaming is already taking place in North Carolina, and gaming is taking place on the border of North Carolina that is pulling money out of North Carolina.”
Conversations surrounding VLT legislation and potentially new casinos have persisted throughout the session, with efforts being made at one point to link the package together with the attempt to legalize mobile sports betting.
"My understanding is that there is more support for this proposal than there was for some of the sports betting," Moore told WRAL.
Currently there are three tribal casinos in the state, two of which are operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a third operated by the Catawba Indian Nation. The land-based casinos are also permitted to offer land-based sports wagering.
Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, signed House Bill 347 into law last month, which will allow the North Carolina State Lottery Commission to issue up to 12 licenses to offer mobile sports wagering, as well as allowing land-based wagering at major professional sports facilities.
Under the bill, mobile sports betting can begin no earlier than January 8, but must begin no later than June.
North Carolina’s legislative session technically runs through August 31, although it is likely to adjourn at an earlier date after a budget is adopted. The Republican-dominated legislature holds a supermajority of both chambers, allowing it to override vetoes from Cooper.
Cooper’s executive budget, however, did include legislation that would legalize and regulate video lottery terminals.