North Carolina would award one gambling company the right to develop three casinos across the state, according to a draft of proposed legislation. Retail casinos are not permitted in the Tar Heel state, but North Carolina is getting ready to launch online sports betting in early 2024.
The draft casino bill calls for a $1.5 billion investment for the three casinos.
Lawmakers still haven’t publicly issued bill language. But the draft bill details the proposal to expand legal gambling in the state. Cordish Cos., a Baltimore-based casino developer and operator, seems to fit the requirements in the draft bill and has reportedly asked for the rezoning of land in Rockingham County, one of the counties designated for a new casino.
North Carolina draft bill informs on the criteria for eligible counties
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger have spoken about casino expansion and outlined the negotiations over casino proposals. According to WRAL News, the talks are happening as leaders work to finalize a compromise budget.
Under the proposal, the following counties could authorize casinos:
The Lumbee Tribe‘s casino, located in the state’s southeastern part, is also under consideration.
The draft bill, dated July 11, informs on the criteria for eligible counties. It says the counties should:
- Be located east of Interstate 77
- Be a border county or one traversed by Interstate 95
- Have a population of less than 100,000 people
- Be one of the 40 most economically depressed counties in the state
North Carolina draft bill reveals other details
The draft bill requests that the secretary of administration start taking proposals by Sept. 1 from gambling companies having 10 years of experience in the commercial sector. The company would need to spend at least $1.5 billion in private money and plan to create at least 5,250 jobs. The process would last 60 days, with an additional 60 days for the secretary of administration to choose an operator.
The bill’s draft version also includes penalties for failing to reach investment or job-creation targets. Each casino would pay a 22.5% tax rate on gross gaming revenue. Video gaming terminals (VGTs) nor video lottery terminals (VLTs) are addressed in the propsal.
Moreover, the lawmakers are working on negotiating a budget deal. Each chamber passed its budget, with major differences over tax cuts and reserve accounts.
Cordish eyes land in Rockingham County
While North Carolina legislators are working on legalizing more casinos in the state, one developer already has its eyes set on a site in Rockingham County.
NC Development Holdings has submitted a request to rezone about 200 acres of land from residential/agricultural to commercial. Records with the Secretary of State’s Office show that the company is tied to The Cordish Cos. and is interested in the location close to the northern state border, near the casino in Danville, Virginia.
The Cordish Cos. is experienced in working in developing gaming and entertainment resorts. Its entertainment districts feature live performances, bars, restaurants and other attractions.
Rockingham County is also the home of Phil Berger, who has been actively advocating for the expansion of legalized gambling in North Carolina.