North Carolina budget omits casino expansion

North Carolina statehouse
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North Carolina’s House of Representatives passed the state budget without a provision to legalize commercial casinos. 

Governor Roy Cooper has announced that the state budget will become law without his signature, with the passage coming as a big political win.

Whilst the majority of the $30bn budget was focused on the expansion of Medicaid in the Tar Heel State – a key priority for Gov. Cooper –  there were plans to load a casino provision into the document. 

A group of lawmakers attempted to hijack the state budget in a bid to authorize four new casinos and legalize video lottery terminals. This, proponents have stated, is part of a wider strategy of stimulating an economy centered around entertainment and leisure in underdeveloped and deprived areas. 

But last week a deal was agreed for those lawmakers to pull out of those plans in a bid to push a budget through in North Carolina. 

After the passage of the budget, any hope of commercial casinos opening in North Carolina any time soon is all but dead. Once the casino provision was removed, the process of passing the budget was relatively seamless, showing the aggravation the idea of gambling expansion can be. 

North Carolina has already legalized sports betting this year, meaning any plans for further gambling expansion would be far-fetched and those hopes have now been watered on. 

The state is currently home to three tribal casinos. Two are run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and operated by Caesars EntertainmentHarrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. The third is Catawba Two Kings Casino, run by the Catawba Nation.