North Carolina’s hopes for gambling expansion have taken a major blow after any mention of gaming in the budget was blocked by Republicans.

Michael Hyland of local CBS outlet WNCN obtained an email from the North Carolina Speaker of the House to all Republicans. It read as follows:


There has been confusion regarding the status of the vote count regarding gaming and other matters. To be clear, we will not pass a budget that does not have 61 Republican votes.

As you can see, there are not 61 Republicans willing to vote for the budget if it includes gaming.

Watch your inboxes for a caucus meeting next week about the budget without gaming.”


In July, a bill proposed a $1.5 billion development in the budget, proposing allowing a sole operator to build three sites across North Carolina. The three sites were aimed at economically deprived areas, with suggested criteria including the area having a population of less than 100,000 and being east of Interstate 77. The fiscal study also suggested that it could create up to 5,000 jobs and a proposed 22.5% tax on GGR would generate millions for the state’s budget.

North Carolina sports betting was legalized in June, 2023 with the legalization of H 347. Legalized NC mobile sports betting is expected to launch in 2024 and as such there was hope that broader gambling expansion would occur.

Currently there are three tribal casinos operational in the state. Two are run by the EAstern Band of Cherokee Indians and are operated by Caesars Entertainment under the Harrah’s brand. The final casino is operated by the Catwba Nation.

In August, the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission bypassed lawmakers with the legalization of digital instant games. Whereas North Carolina online casino seems a distant dream, digital instants are considered very similar to slots in their mechanics. The NCLC justified the eInstant expansion by suggesting it will not only drive digital sales but also retail sales.

For now, the rollout of more commercial casinos and legalization of VLTs remains on hold, although the pro-gambling lobby will be hopeful that come 2024 when lawmakers can revisit the issue, further progress will be made.