north-carolina-casinos-have-majority-public-support,-another-poll-concludes

North Carolina Casinos Have Majority Public Support, Another Poll Concludes

North Carolina casinos are supported by more than one in two state residents, a public poll recently deduced.

North Carolina casinos poll
A majority of likely voters in North Carolina would embrace bringing commercial casinos to the state. That’s according to a new poll that found 55% of state residents are supportive of allowing slot machines and table games in rural parts of the state. (Image: AP)

WRAL News in Raleigh, an NBC affiliate, contracted polling firm Survey USA to gauge public support for commercial casinos in the Tar Heel State. About 850 adults were surveyed between March 6-9, and the pollsters found that most support the idea of bringing Las Vegas-style resorts to North Carolina.

When asked about allowing casinos in rural parts of the state, 55% said they strongly or somewhat support the initiative. Only 28% said they strongly or somewhat oppose casinos, with the remaining 16% unsure.

Among the supporters, men more strongly favored casinos with 61% of respondents lending their backing. Residents aged 35-49 backed the casino question with 65% support.

Survey USA says it’s a nonpartisan outlet based in New Jersey that conducts scientific polls. The North Carolina casino canvass has a margin of error of around +/-4 points.

The public’s support isn’t needed for Raleigh lawmakers to authorize commercial casinos, as the North Carolina Constitution doesn’t prohibit gambling.

Casino Considerations

North Carolina lawmakers mulled legalizing commercial gambling last year. The state is currently home to three tribal casinos, online sports betting, and lottery gambling.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) championed the 2023 casino effort. Berger wanted to allow three commercial casinos in the rural counties of Rockingham, Anson, and Nash. Berger had fielded interest from The Cordish Companies, the Maryland operator of Live! casinos and mixed-use entertainment districts.

Berger’s gaming push ultimately failed after fellow GOP lawmakers said any consideration of gaming expansion should be deliberated on its own and not tacked onto the state’s budget bill as the powerful senator sought.

The North Carolina General Assembly convenes next month for its 2024 legislative session. Gambling is expected to be again reviewed.

The Survey USA poll is the second recent poll finding support for casinos among the general public. Last month, the Meredith Poll from the private women’s liberal arts college in Raleigh released its findings showing that 57% of likely North Carolinian voters favor commercial casinos.

Twenty-four percent said they “strongly support” casinos and another 33% said they “somewhat support” such an undertaking.

North Carolina was long bordered by states without commercial casinos, but that changed in 2020 when Virginia lawmakers passed legislation to allow slot machines, table games, and sports betting in five designated cities. Four of those cities — Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol — are short drives from North Carolina.

Don’t Call Them Casinos

Berger last year regularly referred to casinos as “entertainment districts.”

If you think it’s only about gaming, you say ‘casinos.’ But it wasn’t only about gaming. It was about addressing economic growth and economic development in rural areas,” Berger said during a January interview.

Few politicians would oppose economic development and growth schemes, but the state’s next governor likely won’t be overly supportive of betting on Las Vegas to prop up the Tar Heel State’s economy.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) earlier this month secured their party’s respective gubernatorial tickets to succeed term-limited Gov. Roy Cooper (D). Stein and Robinson have both expressed hostility toward casinos in favor of focusing on other initiatives that can help develop rural economies.

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