Support Growing for North Carolina Casino Expansion

A new survey shows that over half of North Carolinians now support allowing commercial casinos in the state. The poll, released Monday by Meredith College, found 54% in favor of legal gambling venues on non-tribal land while 35% opposed the idea.

The state legislature recently reconvened for a short 2023 session after last year’s debates over Senate leader Phil Berger’s unsuccessful proposal to permit four additional North Carolina casinos. If approved, the bill would have allowed gaming resorts in Rockingham, Nash and Anson counties. It also included a fourth site to be run by the Lumbee Tribe.

Lawmakers Remain Hopeful on Broader Gambling Legislation

Representative Jason Saine, sponsor of the state’s new online North Carolina sports betting” law, hinted that gambling discussions are ongoing outside of legislative sessions. He expects talks around legal North Carolina sports betting apps and video lottery terminals (VLTs) in bars and restaurants to gain momentum.

“I think both topics could be considered because…they’re fresh on people’s minds,” Saine noted in January.

Governor Roy Cooper has signaled an openness to extra North Carolina casinos but disagreed with placing casino expansion directly into the state budget. He would prefer to see standalone legislation with a “fair, transparent process.”

State Residents Gradually Warming to Idea of Local Casinos

The Meredith College poll suggests most North Carolinians now view gambling as ubiquitous after years of lottery games and recent North Carolina sportsbook promos. Participants aged 25-40 showed the strongest 30.5% support for new casinos. However, those over 76 opposed the concept the most at 27.1%.

Nearly all political affiliations had a majority in favor:

  • Democrats: 60.5% support, 30.3% oppose
  • Republicans: 55.9% support, 38% oppose
  • Unaffiliated: 53% support, 34.5% oppose

Similarly, an outright majority of both men (69.1% support) and women (54.2% support) would welcome North Carolina casinos. Nevertheless, 9% of respondents still remain undecided, perhaps needing more information before forming an opinion.

Public Support Up Over Last Six Months

Compared to an August 2023 survey by NCWager, this latest poll shows a nine percent increase in favorability toward gaming venues. The lower number of undecideds also suggests more North Carolinians are engaging with the casino debate.

As legislators educate voters that concerns over crime and lost community values are largely unfounded, they may convince even more residents of potential economic benefits. Building gaming resorts in economically struggling counties could aid displacement and increase property values.

✅ Fact Checked on February 7, 2024 by Ken Weaver