Posted on: January 8, 2024, 08:24h.
Last updated on: January 8, 2024, 08:24h.
It’s 2024 and the speculation about the odds of Las Vegas-style resorts coming to North Carolina continues to grow as leaders in the General Assembly suggest they will renew the gaming push this year.
Opposition to casinos remains strong among North Carolinians. A study last year concluded that more than three in four oppose gaming expansion. There’s unease surrounding legislative efforts to legalize casinos.
Rumors are circulating about infrastructure upgrades being linked to the possible casinos. Some believe the improvements are meant to pave the way for large-scale resort projects in the rural counties of Anson, Nash, and Rockingham.
Rockingham has been allocated $54.5 million for water and sewer upgrades. Nash is to receive $17 million and Anson is to receive $6 million for wastewater projects. The money is part of $2 billion in state funding allocated for an array of infrastructure projects statewide.
Last year, North Carolina Sen. President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) pushed legislation to allow a commercial casino resort in the three aforementioned counties. Berger’s bill was developed in conjunction with The Cordish Companies, a Baltimore-based gaming and hospitality firm that runs three casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Cordish executives have made a series of political contributions to Berger and several other powerful lawmakers in Raleigh.
With Berger pledging to reintroduce a gaming bill this session, which begins Jan. 17, county and local leaders say the infrastructure investments have long been in the works.
We’ve had to increase our infrastructure, water, and sewer to accommodate growth, Lance Metzler, Rockingham county manager, told the Carolina Public Press. Metzler said the investments have been planned “for years.”
North Carolina requires the counties to bankroll their infrastructure projects and then submit invoices for the work performed to be reimbursed.
County Concedes Projects Would Aid Casino
While Rockingham and Nash insist that the investments have nothing to do with gambling, Anson County Manager Leonard Sossamon conceded that the upgrades would allow a casino resort to be more easily constructed.
We don’t have the capacity to support something like a casino site and we want to enhance our water and sewage capacity, Sossamon said. “If the Cordish folks come to Anson County, we’ll now be in a position to serve them.