State Budget Hindered by Discussions on North Carolina Casino

Posted on: September 13, 2023, 03:06h. 

Last updated on: September 13, 2023, 03:07h.

North Carolina’s casino talks hit a roadblock when House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) expressed his inability to garner enough votes within his party to proceed with adding a gaming component to the ongoing budget discussions in Raleigh capital. This halt has disrupted the potential plans for the state’s gaming expansion.

North Carolina casinos gambling budget
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is becoming increasingly frustrated with state lawmakers who continue to struggle to find a consensus on a budget plan. Efforts to include the authorization of commercial casinos into the measure have created additional gridlock in the Raleigh capital. (Image: North Carolina Department of Safety)

Phil Berger, the North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore (R-Rockingham), had proposed legalizing commercial casinos in Rockingham, Nash, and Anson counties after the state’s earlier authorization of sports betting in June. However, opposition from residents and local officials in these counties has led to wavering support from some lawmakers.

Berger initially convinced Moore that allowing casinos in these counties would retain gaming revenue within North Carolina, instead of it flowing into neighboring states like Virginia, where new casinos are emerging.

The state lawmakers are in a special session to finalize their 2023-25 budget. Although Berger had suggested incorporating the casino provision in the budget, the opposition from residents and officials led to the withdrawal of support from some lawmakers.

GOP Leaders Divided

Moore stated that he would not proceed with the gaming bill in the budget unless at least 60 out of the 72 House Republicans supported the casino proposal. However, after discussing with his colleagues, Moore realized that the necessary backing was lacking.

Berger, on the other hand, claims to have been informed that at least 40 House Republicans are ready to sign the budget if gaming is included. This implies that the spending plan would require support from a minimum of 20 House Democrats as well.

The Senate leader asserts that he has enough votes in the upper chamber to pass the budget with gaming and present it to Gov. Roy Cooper (D) for approval. Berger accused Moore of changing his stance on supporting casinos in the budget.

I believe that House leadership needs to live up to its commitments. The budget is a series of compromises.

Even if Moore were to support the gaming effort in the budget and the House were to vote in favor, there is no guarantee that Cooper would sign the fiscal package with gaming provisions.

Cooper said, “I’ve said before that this is an issue that should be decided outside of the budget. It shouldn’t be hindering a budget that can help progress the state.”

Budget Impasse

Discrepancies between the Senate and House, and between Republicans and Democrats, have prevented the passage of the North Carolina budget, which was due in June. Berger and Moore had scheduled a vote for this week, but the gaming issue caused further division and led to its cancellation. Berger currently has no timeline for when the budget may pass or even be voted on.

Cooper criticized the Republican leadership for prioritizing casinos over vital investments in public schools, healthcare, mental health, law enforcement, state employees, and community colleges, which are currently hampered by the budget deadlock.

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