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The prospect of adding four new casinos in North Carolina remains up in the air as the issue continues to split legislators and push back the state’s budgeting process. The state’s $30 billion budget was supposed to be wrapped in July, but that’s been delayed.
The casino proposal has become a thorn in the side for leaders in the state House and Senate, who have held differing opinions on how the issue should be decided. House Speaker Tim Moore® has said he doesn’t have enough votes among Republicans to move forward.
Senate Republicans wanted to include the casino proposal in the budget, but Moore has held out on that plan, favoring approving the budget and casino proposals separately. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has supported that idea as well.
Senate leader Phil Berger® has charged Moore with “moving the goalposts” after a previous agreement.
“The votes simply are not there to pass it with gaming,” Moore told WUNC.
North Carolina is currently home to three tribal casinos which provides more than 15,000 jobs and last year brought in more than $225 million in revenue for the state’s local school districts.
Change In Plans
The legal wrangling comes at a time when some legislators are seeking to add more gambling options as patrons continue crossing the border to the growing Virginia gaming market. Over the last few days, senators unveiled a new plan to get both the budget plan passed and the casino proposal.
Plans now call for Medicaid expansion and legalizing the new casinos in the same bill. A vote is now expected for Wednesday.
“The Senate is expected to pass both the budget and the new Medicaid/casinos bill with ease,” The Carolina Journal reports. “Now that casinos will not be included in the budget, the House is also expected to pass the state budget with at least a supermajority margin, meaning 72 or more ‘yes’ votes. However, it is less clear how many will support the Medicaid/casinos bill.”
Whether that will be approved in the House remains to be seen. According to the latest bill, the new casinos would create at least 1,750 jobs. Any casinos would need local government approval and need to be run by an operator with at least 10 years of experience. The casinos would also invest at least $500 million to develop each district.