During a special meeting last Friday, the Nash County Board Commissioners approved the idea of holding a referendum, allowing citizens to decide whether the county should host one of the proposed casino complexes in North Carolina. After a three-hour closed session, commissioners voted 6-1 to hold a casino referendum, which will most likely appear on a ballot in the 2024 primary elections on March 5. County leaders’ opinions on the proposed casino expansion, however, remain polarized.
Last week, officials in Raleigh said that the proposal to establish four gambling venues was still in the preliminary stages in the North Carolina Assembly. They added that the casinos would boost the state economy and allow it to compete with neighboring states’ gambling operations. Officials also said that Nash would be a possible location for one of the four casinos due to the fact that the I-95 corridor runs through the county. However, there are no certain plans for the exact locations of the four proposed casinos yet.
Nash officials explained that the casino bill raised concerns among gambling opponents who argued that the presence of a casino in the county would increase crime in the area and could potentially lead to problem gambling.
What Arguments Commissioners Pointed Out During the Meeting?
During the Friday meeting, Commissioner Dan Cone said that Nash County residents must have a say on the casino proposal and was against the idea of allowing a gambling establishment in the county without asking the locals. Commissioners Gwen Wilkins and Sue Leggett also supported the proposed casino referendum, explaining that the best would be to let the residents decide whether or not they want a casino in the area.
Board Chairman Robbie Davis explained that although he has been against the casino proposal, people must be allowed to express their opinions on highly controversial matters. Fred Belfield also voted in favor of the referendum, adding that a referendum must have been held also regarding the recent redistricting of the school’s board. He also made it clear that he did not oppose the proposed casino project.
Commissioner Marvin Arrington was the only one against the casino referendum. He explained that Rocky Mount voters should be the only ones allowed to decide whether to allow the establishment of a proposed casino complex because the gambling venue would be located within the city’s territory, at I-95 and U.S. 64. Arrington also said voters were not asked about their opinions on other issues, with one of them being the redistricting of Nash County’s single-member commissioner districts.
Last week, North Carolina lawmakers considered authorizing four non-tribal casinos in Nash, Anson, and Rockingham counties. According to a study, the proposed gambling venues would generate up to $1.7 billion in gross gaming revenue and pump hundreds of millions into the state economy.