North Carolina’s Changing Betting Landscape

The betting industry in North Carolina is on the cusp of transformative change, and 2024 promises to be a pivotal year for its expansion. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, both Republicans, are expected to continue their push for gaming expansion in the state capital, Raleigh. Although their casino efforts didn’t succeed in 2022, the winds of change are blowing in favor of the betting industry.

A Shift in Paradigm: Betting Takes Root in North Carolina

Historically, North Carolina has been a bastion of opposition to commercial gaming expansion. The state’s conservative stance on gambling has gradually shifted, paving the way for a new era in betting. In 2023, the North Carolina General Assembly approved online and in-person sports betting at professional sports venues. This marked a significant departure from the longstanding prohibition on commercial casinos.

North Carolina currently hosts three tribal casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River, and Catawba Two Kings. These venues have catered to the state’s gaming enthusiasts, but the appetite for more extensive gaming options has been growing.

A Tactical Misstep in 2023

In 2023, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger devised a strategy to introduce a commercial gaming provision within the state’s 2023-25 budget bill. The idea was to include three commercial casinos in designated counties through the budgeting process, in the hope of garnering support from Governor Roy Cooper and the state’s elected Democrats.

This strategy was viewed as a potential win-win situation, considering Republicans had previously collaborated with the governor to expand healthcare access through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare.” However, the approach taken to legalize commercial casinos through the budget bill raised concerns.

The Need for a More Traditional Approach

House Speaker Tim Moore, reflecting on the failed attempt, acknowledged that the process had significant flaws from the outset. Local officials and residents in the affected counties—Rockingham, Anson, and Nash—felt excluded from the decision-making process. They expressed their frustration at not having a say in bringing slot machines, table games, and sports betting to their communities.

Moore emphasized that the legislative tactics used were likely doomed to fail, primarily due to the lack of input from the residents of the targeted counties. While 2023 was not the year for legalizing commercial casinos, Moore remains optimistic about the industry’s prospects in 2024.

A Second Chance in 2024

As North Carolina gears up for 2024, the betting landscape is set to undergo significant changes. Moore believes that a more traditional approach to legalizing commercial casinos is the way forward. The previous tactics may not have aligned with the needs and desires of local communities, but 2024 presents an opportunity to rectify those shortcomings.

Moore expressed his willingness to support a commercial gaming measure. However, he highlighted the importance of local officials and residents taking the lead in securing votes for casino legalization. Moore won’t be the one leading the charge but believes that the residents need to collaborate and garner support from their colleagues to ensure success.

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