North Carolina state budget moves forward without gambling expansion

September 20, 2023

An expansion of Medicaid in the state was prioritized over a bill proposed by Senate leader Phil Berger, which would have allowed for four more casinos.

North Carolina has been embroiled in a legislative debate over the past month concerning the expansion of gambling. However, Republican leaders have now announced that the final state budget will be passed without allowance for new casinos.

The state budget approval process was ‘held up’ earlier this month by discussions of adding more casinos to the Tar Heel State, and on September 18 North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger’s office proposed a bill that would authorize four new casinos. Berger has now said these efforts will not go any further.

Republicans in both the North Carolina House and Senate were unsure how to obtain the votes needed to authorize, not only the four potential new casinos, but also a push to legitimize and regulate video gambling machines. The gambling two-year spending plan was considered for a bill separate from the state budget, but tied to an expansion of Medicaid.

The Medicaid expansion, approved by Governor Roy Cooper in March, is considered a priority and legislators opposed the possibility of linking gambling spending to it.

Berger told reporters, “We think this is the best, most prudent way for us to move forward.” He also stated that the final two-year spending plan would be released today, with floor votes scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week.

House speaker Tim Moore said within the House Republican caucus, “Clearly there were differences of opinion and at the end of the day we felt like this issue and no one single issue should hold up the budget.”

The state currently has three Tribal casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River and Catawba Two Kings Casino. A fourth Tribal casino could have potentially been operated by the Lumbee Tribe.

Back in August, North Carolina commissioners actually approved a zoning request for a casino in Rockingham County, but the 3,000 residents of Rockingham who signed a petition against a casino may now be celebrating.


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