iGaming Expands the Casino Discussion in North Carolina

Published: August 18, 2023, 09:54h.

Last updated: August 18, 2023, 09:54h.

The conversation around North Carolina casinos in Raleigh is expanding to include iGaming.

North Carolina casino iGaming
North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger wants to bring Las Vegas-style commercial casino resorts to his home state. His gaming bill could additionally include online gaming, though those odds are presumably longer than the brick-and-mortar casino statute at this juncture. (Image: WUNC)

Despite facing opposition from local officials and community members in the three counties where state Republicans are hoping to allow commercial casino resorts, Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) are considering iGaming as well.

iGaming refers to online slot machines and table games that can be played within the state.

“Digital gaming is the way of the future,” says Moore. “There will be a conversation about it,” Berger added.

Berger and Moore are in favor of allowing a single commercial casino in the counties of Rockingham, Nash, and Anson. Rockingham and Anson border Virginia and South Carolina, respectively. Nash, home to Rocky Mount, is intersected by Interstate 95, the East Coast’s primary north-south corridor.

In 2020, Virginia legalized commercial casinos in five cities in need of an economic boost, including Danville which is located just north of the North Carolina-Virginia border. Caesars Entertainment is investing $650 million to open an integrated resort casino in Danville, less than two miles from the border.

North Carolina Republicans are attempting to attach the commercial casino bill to the state’s budget bill, which is currently the focus of the General Assembly’s extended session but is being delayed by discussions on gaming.

iGaming Odds

While Berger and Moore believe iGaming deserves further assessment, they also express concerns about introducing internet gaming to North Carolina.

Berger’s main motivation for supporting commercial casinos and ending the state’s longstanding ban on Las Vegas-style gambling is to provide North Carolinians with a local gambling option and prevent tax revenues from flowing into Virginia. He also believes that brick-and-mortar casino resorts would create thousands of new jobs.

“It is the only form of gaming where you’re going to see a significant creation of new jobs for the state, whereas you’re not going to see that with something on people’s phones,” Berger said in reference to brick-and-mortar casinos.

An initial provision of the commercial gaming bill would require developers of the Rockingham, Nash, and Anson county casinos to employ a minimum of 1,750 people at each location.

Concerns about Problem Gambling

Moore expresses apprehensions about iGaming, stating that allowing people to gamble on their smartphones and mobile devices could lead to “reckless activity.”

“I need more data to know where I stand,” Moore said.

iGaming is currently legal in only six states: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Michigan.

North Carolina and Michigan have similar populations, both with over 10 million residents. In 2022, Michigan’s iGaming revenue reached $1.43 billion, with tax revenue totaling over $289.2 million.

Michigan allows commercial casinos only in Detroit, but the state is home to 23 tribal casinos.

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