Legislation to allow for commercial casinos in North Carolina will be addressed separately from the state budget this week, multiple local news sources reported over the weekend.
Previously, some legislators hoped to expand legal gambling in the state by permitting commercial casinos as part of the new budget bill. North Carolina currently has only tribal casinos.
The News & Observer reported Sunday that the separate casino bill would authorize the creation of four new casinos in addition to expanding Medicaid. Rep. Jason Saine told the publication he expects votes on the budget and on casino legislation to come during the middle of this week.
Casino bill details
The casino bill includes a gaming tax rate of 22.5%, according to the version posted by CBS 17.
It was previously shared that Anson, Moore, and Rockingham counties would likely host casinos, with the Lumbee Tribe able to operate the fourth casino in either Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Hoke, New Hanover, Richmond, Robeson, or Scotland county. The Lumbee Tribe’s casino must be in one or more of those counties, the legislation specifies.
The legislation allows for the possibility of multiple different entities to develop separate casino sites. It’s possible, however, one business entity could develop casinos in multiple counties.
Regulated online casinos are not included in the legislation.
Governor irate over maneuver
Gov. Roy Cooper and Democrats in the state legislature have pushed for the expansion of Medicaid throughout budget discussions. Cooper isn’t pleased that some legislators are trying to pass casino expansion and Medicaid expansion in the same bill.
He believes that’s a political tactic, knowing other legislators will essentially be forced to support the bill given their desire for Medicaid expansion.
“GOP demand for passage of their backroom casino deal in exchange for a state budget and Medicaid expansion is the most brutally dishonest legislative scheme I’ve seen in my 3+ decades,” Cooper posted on social media over the weekend. “People are right to be suspicious. Something has a grip on Republican leaders and it’s not the people of NC.”
There could be intense debates this week as Democrats and Republicans try to reach a consensus on the state budget, casino legalization, and Medicaid expansion all at the same time.
Photo: Getty Images