According to a poll released on Wednesday, the majority of North Carolina residents embrace the idea of expanding casino gambling across the state. State lawmakers are considering authorizing four more casinos in North Carolina. One operator would run three casinos, while the Lumbee Tribe would operate the fourth proposed gambling establishment. The legalization of video gambling machines in North Carolina is also in the works. The proposed casino expansion comes just a few months after mobile sports betting was legalized in the state.
The poll results reveal that 45% of the inquired people are in favor of the proposed casino expansion, while 29% are against it. The remaining 26% said they were unsure. Of all 1,000 surveyed people, two-thirds realize that the casino expansion could fuel a rise in the number of people struggling with gambling problems. As much as 58% of the surveyed people recognize the economic benefits of having more casinos in the state.
Tyler Andrews, the managing editor of NCSharp.com, which executed the poll, said that the casino expansion was thrust upon people too quickly, who are still weighing up the pros and cons of having more casinos across the state. Chris Cooper, an expert on state politics at Western Carolina University, commented on the results, saying that most people seem to have no opinion on the casino expansion or do not care about it.
Andrews also said that most people downgrade the negative effects gambling could cause and focus on the benefits for the community. He attributed this tendency to the fact that there is no detailed information about the casino expansion and what the casinos will look like.
Proposed Casino Expansion Causes Controversy among North Carolina Lawmakers and Residents
Although there is no finalized bill yet, lawmakers plan to authorize the establishment of four entertainment areas in the state, which would include gambling and non-gambling amenities, such as hotels and restaurants. The non-tribal casinos would be located in Nash, Anson, and Rockingham counties.
Talks over the proposed casino expansion appear connected to the ongoing discussion about the state budget. Although Republicans are closing in on a final state budget, they have not reached a final agreement yet. The proposed gambling expansion could be voted on as part of the budget if Republicans reach an agreement on the matter. Otherwise, there will be a separate vote.
Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) has noted that the four casinos in southern Virginia are drawing players from South Carolina, which costs the Tar Heel State hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue. He added that Virginia has a successful gambling industry because casino proponents have managed to convince people to see gambling as a tool for economic growth.
In Rockingham County, many residents are against the proposed casino expansion and the rezoning of nearly 200 acres of land. An online petition on the matter was signed by nearly 3,000 people opposing a possible casino in Rockingham by Wednesday afternoon. On August 21, Rockingham County commissioners will meet to discuss the matter and make a final decision. In Nash County, commissioners decided to hold a casino referendum, allowing locals to decide whether or not they want a casino in the area.