By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
July 28, 2023
At least eight North Carolina lawmakers have received donations in the past year from individuals tied to the company that is favored to win the rights to build new casinos if the state legislature and the governor give it the green light, according to a new report.
The Carolina Public Press investigative report found that eight GOP state legislators received money from individuals with direct ties to The Cordish Cos., a Baltimore, Md., company that is seeking the rights to build casinos across the state.
The casinos reportedly would be built in Anson, Nash, and Rockingham counties. A fourth new casino could be run by the Lumbee Tribe in the southeastern part of the state, WRAL reported.
As of now, casinos can only be located on tribal lands, which are located in the western part of the state.
Republican leaders are working on a draft bill.
“I don’t know that it’s something we’ll be able to do. Obviously, it’s something I’ve been supportive of,” said Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican.
House Speaker Tim Moore said the draft bill has plenty of support.
“My understanding is that there is more support for this proposal than there was for some of the sports betting,” Moore said.
But the Carolina Public Press investigation found that Berger is one of eight state legislators who have received donations from individuals tied to Cordish. The others are Sen. Lisa Barnes, Sen. David Craven, Rep. John Bell, Rep. Larry Strickland, Sen. Todd Johnson, Rep. Jason Saine, and Rep. Kyle Hall. All are Republicans.
The donations range from $2,500 to $5,600.
“It could be the tip of the iceberg of the money that is falling into political campaigns and dark money operations that will be or have been funding General Assembly candidates and politicians,” Bob Hall, the former executive director of Democracy NC, told Carolina Public Press.
But “it’s not illegal,” he said.
Hall called it a “pay-to-play scheme,” saying “the system itself is corrupt.”
“They put a lot of money behind their requests to get attention and overcome the hesitation of legislators,” he said, referencing the companies. “That corrupting dynamic leads the leadership into compromising and bringing proposals to the members of their caucus.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said that gambling has always been associated with corruption in politics. Rev. Creech issued the following statement:
“I have tremendous appreciation and respect for each of the lawmakers who have taken money from the gambling industry. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they don’t understand the danger gambling poses.
“Gaius Sallustius Crispus, the ancient Roman historian and politician, said, ‘Gambling is the enemy of politics, and the ruin of the people.’ Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania, rightly said, ‘The intrusion of commercial gambling into the political life of a community is a dangerous development that corrupts the political process.’
“One of the ways gambling corrupts politics is through the influence of money and lobbying. The gambling industry can be financially lucrative, and as such, it often seeks to influence political decision-making to shape legislation and regulations in its favor. This can include making political donations, hiring lobbyists, and funding campaigns of politicians who support pro-gambling policies. Such influence can undermine the fairness and integrity of the political process by giving undue advantage to specific interests.
“Gambling lobbyists, people who represent large sums of money, are currently plying their influence throughout the halls of the North Carolina General Assembly. They are numerous and there are only a few lobbyists of anti-gambling persuasion trying to counter their efforts. This is why people of anti-gambling sentiment across the state must make their voices heard now.
“I am disappointed with several lawmakers in whom I’ve had confidence. I believed them to be of a nobler character. However, it seems what I’m witnessing is something almost like sorcery – a pall that has now spread over good people – making them somewhat pawns of the most predatory industry in the country. I never thought I would see the day when so many Republicans in the General Assembly would support gambling interests. Don’t they understand this is not about freedom? This allows one segment of society to virtually enslave another segment for profit. Gambling is the thief of freedom, the enemy of democracy, and an impetus of income inequality. I believe no Republican, no Democrat, true to the core principles of his or her political party, would ever vote for gambling.”
The Christian Action League will continue monitoring this issue and inform its supporters of any relevant changes.
In the meantime, The Christian Action League encourages its supporters to send a message to Sen. Phil Berger, Senate President Pro-Tempore, that North Carolina does not need more casinos or any other form of gambling. Call him at (919) 733-5708 to ask him to oppose any expansion of gambling.
Please Phone Senate President Pro-Tempore
Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham)
Below are 10 talking points to help you. You can use one, use all of them, or just some of them. It’s up to you, but please call.
- Social and economic costs: Casinos have been associated with various social issues such as increased crime rates, gambling addiction, and higher rates of bankruptcy. The negative consequences can strain public resources and social services, putting a burden on the community.
- The exploitation of vulnerable individuals: Casinos exploit vulnerable individuals, including problem gamblers and those from lower-income backgrounds. These individuals are more susceptible to developing gambling addictions and often spend a significant portion of their income on gambling, exacerbating poverty and inequality.
- Economic impact on local businesses: While casinos may create job opportunities, studies have shown that they can harm local businesses. Many local establishments, such as restaurants and small retailers, struggle to compete with the amenities and attractions offered by casinos, leading to closures and job losses.
- Regressive tax implications: Casinos often require substantial tax breaks and incentives from governments to establish themselves. These tax benefits can disproportionately favor wealthy investors and corporations, further exacerbating income inequality.
- Unpredictable revenue sources: Relying on casino revenue to fund public services is risky, to say the least. Casino revenues can fluctuate greatly, especially during economic downturns, making it an unreliable and unstable source of revenue for essential public services like education and healthcare.
- Corruption and organized crime: The gambling industry has historically been associated with corruption and links to organized crime. Casinos create an environment that fosters money laundering, bribery, and other illicit activities, posing a threat to the integrity of local institutions.
- Negative impact on local culture and tourism: Some argue that the establishment of casinos can diminish the unique cultural aspects and historical charm of a community. Additionally, the focus on gambling tourism may overshadow other attractions, discouraging visitors interested in different aspects of the local culture.
- Negative impact on public health: Studies have shown that areas with casinos often experience an increase in mental health issues, substance abuse, and even suicide rates. The prevalence of gambling addiction and its associated harms can have a severe impact on public health and well-being.
- Evaporation of wealth: Casinos are designed to generate profits for their owners, often at the expense of local communities. The majority of money spent in casinos tends to leave the local economy, benefiting out-of-state corporations or even foreign investors, which can lead to long-term economic losses for the community.
- Possible decline in property values: The presence of a casino can lead to a decline in property values, which negatively impacts homeowners and increase residential instability within a community.