In North Carolina, a standoff has emerged between the Senate and House Republicans over the expansion of gambling. The Senate Republicans are pushing for the inclusion of commercial casinos and video lottery terminals (VLTs) in the state budget. However, House Republicans are not in favor of this move. Senate leaders have indicated that without the revenue from these gambling avenues, local spending projects might not see the light of day. Instead, the Senate might only approve a basic budget that covers state government operations and salary hikes for employees.
Optimism Amidst Delays
There’s optimism among some legislative sources that the House might eventually come around to the idea of gambling expansion. Earlier in the session, the state had already given the green light to sports betting and parimutuel wagering. The state budget, which was due on July 1, is still under deliberation.
Republican Stance on Gambling Expansion
House Speaker Tim Moore has communicated that there isn’t sufficient Republican support for the gambling expansion. While there are 72 Republicans in the 120-member House, Moore suggests that the budget might pass with Democratic support. However, the House is reluctant to proceed unless they can secure full Republican backing. This hesitancy is rooted in the state’s conservative values, with some Republicans vowing never to support gambling expansion on moral grounds.
Opposition from Various Quarters
There’s also opposition from various quarters. A group from Rockingham County, a potential site for casino expansion, has voiced its dissent. There’s been talk of limiting commercial casino development to three establishments, all owned by a single company with a $1.5 billion investment. This proposal seems to favor the Baltimore-based casino developer, Cordish Cos., leading to pushback from other major casino operators. The Catawba Nation, which runs an Indian casino near Charlotte, is also against the expansion of commercial gambling.
The VLT Proposal and Potential Revenue
The specifics of the video lottery terminal proposal remain under wraps. Earlier, Rep. Harry Warren had presented his VLT regulation bill, but the current proposal originates from the Senate. Estimates suggest that there are already between 60,000 to 100,000 gray machines in operation across the state. A recent market analysis predicts that three resort casinos in North Carolina could bring in $1.682 billion annually, while VLTs could generate $1.89 billion each year.