North Carolina Casino Conversation Extends to iGaming

Posted on: August 18, 2023, 09:54h. 

Last updated on: August 18, 2023, 10:02h.

The North Carolina casino conversation in Raleigh is reportedly expanding to include iGaming.

North Carolina casino iGaming
North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) wants to bring Las Vegas-style commercial casino resorts to his home state. His gaming bill could additionally include online gaming, though those odds are presumably longer than the brick-and-mortar casino statute at this juncture. (Image: WUNC)

Despite considerable pushback from local officials and community members in the three counties where state Republicans are hoping to allow commercial casino resorts, Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) say iGaming will also be considered.

iGaming refers to online slot machines and table games that can be played anywhere from inside the state.

Digital gaming is, you say the way of the future, I’d say the way of today,” Moore told WRAL News in Raleigh. “There will be a conversation about it,” Berger added.

Berger and Moore of supportive of allowing a single commercial casino in the counties of Rockingham, Nash, and Anson. Rockingham and Anson respectively abut the Virginia and South Carolina borders. Nash, home to Rocky Mount, is intersected by Interstate 95, the East Coast’s primary north-south corridor.

Virginia in 2020 legalized commercial casinos in five cities in need of an economic spark, with one being Danville just north of the North Carolina-Virginia border. Caesars Entertainment is spending $650 million to open an integrated resort casino in Danville less than two miles from the border.

Republicans in North Carolina are trying to affix the commercial casino bill to the state’s budget bill, which remains the focus of the General Assembly’s extended session, but is reportedly being delayed by the gaming talks.

iGaming Odds

While Berger and Moore believe iGaming is worthy of a closer look, the two legislative leaders said there are concerns with bringing internet gaming to the Tar Heel State.

Berger says his primary motivation for supporting commercial casinos and ending the state’s long prohibition of Las Vegas-style gambling is to provide North Carolinians wishing to gamble with an option inside the state, and to keep that tax money from flowing into Virginia. He also reasons that brick-and-mortar casino resorts would generate thousands of new jobs.

“It is the only form of gaming where you’re going to see a significant creation of new jobs to the state, whereas you’re not going to see that with something on people’s phones,” Berger said of brick-and-mortar casinos.

An early provision of the commercial gaming bill would require the developer of the Rockingham, Nash, and Anson County casinos to employ a minimum of 1,750 people at each location.

Problem Gaming Concerns

Moore says he has trepidations about iGaming. The House speaker says allowing people to gamble on their smartphones and mobile devices could lead to “reckless activity.”

“I need to have more data to know 100% where I am,” Moore said.

iGaming is legal in only six states, including Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Michigan.

North Carolina and Michigan have comparable populations with more than 10 million residents each. In 2022, Michigan iGaming revenue totaled $1.43 billion. Michigan iGaming taxes totaled more than $289.2 million.

Michigan allows commercial casinos only in Detroit, but the state is home to 23 tribal casinos.