North Carolina Lawmakers Could Look To Expand Casino Gambling

Written By J.R. Duren on April 24, 2023
Commercial casinos in North Carolina could be next for lawmakers

North Carolina lawmakers could consider legalizing casino gambling on non-tribal land and video lottery terminals (VLT) statewide after the push for online sports betting concludes.

But making legal casinos in North Carolina happen outside tribal land (“commercial”) is going to be a tough task. As with many states considering casino gambling, the benefit of additional budget space from more gaming tax revenue doesn’t always outweigh the drawback of the complexities of moving from tribal-only gaming to commercial and tribal gaming.

Study indicates commercial gambling in North Carolina could bring billions

A Spectrum Gaming Group study commissioned by the conservative group Greater Carolina indicated that expanding gaming to commercial casinos and VLTs could have the following impact:

Gaming TypeGross Gaming Revenue Potential20% Tax Rate25% Tax Rate30% Tax Rate35% Tax Rate
Commercial Casinos$1.7 billion$336 million$420 million$504 million$589 million
Video Lottery Terminals$1.9 billion$379 million$474 million$569 million$664 million

The Spectrum projections assume that the state allows three commercial casinos, one in each of the following counties:

  1. Rockingham
  2. Anson
  3. Nash

The three casinos would capture traffic from three of the state’s biggest metro areas: Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh-Durham. That’s a considerable untapped market, as the state has no casinos east of Charlotte.

The report noted: “Spectrum projects $1.682 billion in (gross gaming revenue) will be available to the assumed three new casinos in North Carolina after factoring in new in-state markets created by assumed new commercial casinos (and) in-state and out-of-state patronage retained by existing casinos in NC and VA.”

Big revenue potential could expedite legal commercial casinos

From a dollars and cents perspective, expanded gambling means a big boost in the state’s revenue. Depending on the tax rate that lawmakers choose, the state could make up to an additional $1.3 billion in tax revenue.

Additionally, Spectrum believed that adding commercial casinos and VLTs could have a $5 billion economic impact on the state.

Numbers like that make a strong case for expanding gaming. But the importance of gaming tax revenue goes beyond the bottom line. Lawmakers recently approved a budget that would eliminate corporate taxes and lower income taxes.

As those tax rates go down, the state has to look elsewhere to come up with income. Adding three commercial casinos and thousands of VLTs could fill that gap. As such, lawmakers could be intent on making expanded gaming happen.

Another factor at play? Caesars plans to finish construction on a casino in Danville, which sits on the North Carolina border. The casino will pull revenue dollars from North Carolina residents; that’s money that could be going toward the NC budget.

Furthermore, Rep. Jason Saine told WRAL that NC residents will see the Caesars development across the border and wonder, “Why not us?” Saine continued:

“You see these casinos going up on our borders. People are going to these destination spots. It employs a lot of people. That’s got to be attractive to members in those areas who see it as a tremendous opportunity for economic development.”

Legislators also pushing online sports betting

In addition to a discussion about adding casinos and VLTs, lawmakers are advancing online sports betting. The House passed an online sports betting bill in late March.

Spectrum predicts that online sports betting can generate $509 million in gross gaming revenue. The House bill proposes a 14% tax rate, which could create a projected $71.3 million in tax revenue.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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