By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
September 8, 2023
Opponents to casino expansion in North Carolina may have won a major victory this week when House Speaker Tim Moore told colleagues a budget bill with gaming does not have enough votes to pass.
For weeks, Moore and Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger had said they were working on a new budget that would include a major expansion of casinos across the state, with Anson, Nash and Rockingham Counties landing the expected sites, according to reports. A fourth casino would have been operated by the Lumbee Tribe.
Currently, the only casinos in North Carolina are owned by Native American tribes in the western part of the state.
On Wednesday night, Moore sent an email to colleagues acknowledging that a casino-inclusive budget bill lacked the votes. Republicans have 72 votes in the 120-member House. A majority is 61.
“To be clear we will not pass a budget that does not have 61 Republican votes,” Moore wrote, according to WRAL. His office later confirmed the email as authentic. “As you can see, there are not 61 Republicans willing to vote for the budget if it includes gaming.”
Further cementing his point, Moore told GOP members, “Watch your inboxes for a caucus meeting next week about the budget without gaming.”
Republicans are expected to consider a new budget next week.
Berger said Thursday that a stand-alone casino bill likely would not pass this session, according to CBS-17.
Republican leaders may have been surprised by the opposition to casinos in the three proposed counties. Christian and conservative groups have hosted rallies opposing casinos in Anson, Nash and Rockingham Counties.
Earlier this week, opponents from Rockingham and Nash counties traveled to the state capitol in Raleigh to urge “no” votes on the proposal. Elisabeth Corona, a realtor from Rockingham County, said she feared a casino would lead to crime and substance abuse, gambling addiction and lower property values.
“Everyone does have a choice, but do you want to set people up for disaster, or have a part in making our state a better place to live?” she asked.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, appeared at the Raleigh rally and emphasized the opposition by people of faith. The National Association of Evangelicals, he noted, says government-run casinos and gambling are “socially, morally and economically destructive” and are “rooted in covetousness and violate the biblical work ethic.”
The issue, he said, is dividing Republicans.
“When the state GOP Convention was held in June of 2021 at Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee, some Republicans sat out the Convention that year because of their disdain for gambling,” he said.