North Carolina lawmakers considering casino, VLTs expansion

The North Carolina Senate is considering further gambling expansion. After legislation authorizing sports betting in the Old North State received approval from the House in late March, currently awaiting Senate action, now some lawmakers are debating expanding casino gaming as well.

Top supporters of the bipartisan House bill have been deliberate in building support. They have collected more than 55 sponsors within the 120-member chamber, according to the Associated Press

Currently, some forms of gambling are legal in the state, including the Education Lottery and gambling at tribal casinos. However, the proposed expansion would further legalize other types of gambling not yet approved, meaning North Carolinians would no longer have to cross the state border to do so. 

Under the plan, North Carolina would allow video lottery terminals statewide and even full casinos outside of Native American tribal land. “I keep hearing from them [Senators] that they want to take up VLTs and potential sites in Eastern North Carolina for casinos,” Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican, told WRAL this month.

Rep. Jason Saine

There are three tribal casinos currently operating in the state. Two Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian casinos are located in the far-western part of the state, while a Catawba Indian casino is on Interstate 85, near the South Carolina border. 

“I’ve heard folks talk about it for years in Eastern North Carolina: Why is there just a casino in the western part of the state?” said also this month Sen. Jim Perry, a Republican from Lenoir County, as per WRAL. “There are a bunch of jobs. I’d be willing to have that conversation with somebody.”

Analysis of expanded gambling released

A recent analysis of gambling studied the potential impact of three casinos located around the state, in Anson, Nash and Rockingham county. 

The expected gross gaming revenue from those three casinos would be $1.6 billion, according to the report, entitled “Gaming Market Analysis: Potential New Gaming Options in North Carolina.” The study was commissioned by Greater Carolina and produced by Spectrum Gaming Group.

According to Spectrum estimates, North Carolina would also leak $259 million in gross gaming revenue from developing casinos in Danville and Hampton Roads in Virginia, reports The Anson Record. Virginia lawmakers and voters approved in 2020 casinos in four southern Virginia cities: Danville, Bristol, Norfolk and Portsmouth.

As per the report, Anson’s casino would be able to attract South Carolinians. Meanwhile, the Nash and Rockingham gaming venues could potentially draw in Virginians and Tennesseans, as well as their North Carolina residents.

In addition to casinos, the expansion would also include both sports betting and video lottery terminals. Geofencing technology reveals that North Carolina residents are crossing state lines to place online sports bets via legal sportsbooks in other jurisdictions such as Virginia and Tennessee.

While the gambling expansion is under consideration, many details remain murky, including the exact timeline of legislation and whether the plan could realistically be approved. Any projected timelines for the casinos were not included in the study.