By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
August 11, 2023
A Rockingham County man who is helping lead the opposition to casinos in his area says a proposed casino bill can be defeated but only if Christians speak out and contact their local legislators and commissioners.
Rockingham County’s Doug Isley says he hopes to have thousands of county residents show up at an Aug. 21 Rockingham County commissioners meeting to state their opposition to a proposed rezoning of land that would be used for a casino owned by the Cordish Companies.
A yet-to-be released North Carolina bill reportedly would authorize casinos in Rockingham, Anson and Nash counties.
Hundreds of opponents recently filled Rockingham County’s Ellisboro Baptist Church for a 90-minute community meeting against casinos.
“We’re not Las Vegas. We don’t want to be Las Vegas,” one resident at the meeting said.
“I worry about human trafficking. I worry about increased crime … I really worry about the changes this rezoning will make in the way our children live their lives,” another resident said.
Isley told the Christian Action League that residents of the three counties must contact their local commissioners and state their opposition. It’s just as important, he said, for Christians across North Carolina to contact their senator and representative.
“As Christians, we need to pray. We need to ask God to give leadership wisdom, and then we need to get on the phones. We need to call all the county commissioners,” Isley told the Christian Action League.
Commissioners in Rockingham, he said, are attempting to deflect the issue away from casinos. More than 3,000 people have signed an online petition opposing the rezoning.
“Our commissioners are trying to make this out to be a rezoning issue. And they’re trying to take the heat off of them as far as the casino aspect and say, ‘Well, we’re not building a casino. We’re not approving a casino. We’re just following the guidelines.’ But they are the ones that set the guidelines to allow for casinos.”
It is urgent that residents call commissioners and legislators and tell them, “This is not going to be good for our community,” he added.
“It’s not what fits in rural Rockingham County nor does it fit Nash or Anson counties,” he said. “Casinos are predatory.”
The overwhelming majority of people who play at casinos, he said, don’t win.
“The only winners are going to be the casinos and the state legislators that get their coffers filled, their war chest filled,” he said. “… This is backroom politics. This is the swamp coming to Raleigh and Rockingham County.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, agreed with Isley that residents must speak out.
“Determined efforts are now being made by the gambling industry to convince lawmakers at the North Carolina General Assembly that legalized gambling is an untapped resource for revenue,” Creech said. “It’s a painless way to bring millions of dollars and supplant revenue that would be lost by providing North Carolinians with a tax cut.”
Although supporters say the gambling industry is a legitimate enterprise, the opposite is actually true, Creech said.
“Gaming’s history has always been rife with corruption,” Creech said. “According to recent media reports the gambling industry has already doled out thousands of dollars to certain lawmakers for the authorization of these new casinos. North Carolinians, especially our lawmakers, should not forget the way former North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black was indicted for corruption related to gambling interests and went to jail. Every time North Carolina legalizes a form of gambling they offer this corrupt enterprise another opportunity for lawful and respectable existence. That offer, no matter how sincere, not only for the people of our state, but the entire nation, is a risky one.”
The economic costs of gambling are much greater than the gains it generates, Creech said.
“I must be straight to the point here,” Creech said. “Those who advocate resolving any or some of our state’s fiscal dilemmas by the introduction of gambling taxation — viewing it as some kind of political panacea for an affluent and increasingly urbanized society will only find it to be a token effort at best. Under the pressing needs of a state budget, lawmakers are looking for an easy solution. A proposal for gambling revenue shows they’ve run out of good ideas. They’ve reached the end of their political rhetoric on tax cuts and how to raise additional funding. It’s time for Americans, North Carolinians, especially lawmakers, to realize that gambling is a regressive tax — immorally grinding the faces of the poor in the dirt — and exploiting the weaknesses of its own citizens for profit. Saying that it’s consensual doesn’t make it right.”