Poll Shows North Carolinians Back Statewide Referendum on Casinos

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New polling in North Carolina shows that the majority of voters want to weigh in on whether commercial casinos should be established in the state. A recent survey conducted by Cygnal, a DC-based research firm, found that almost 76% of respondents believe the decision should be made through a statewide referendum. Only 16% disagreed with the idea of holding a public vote on the issue.

State leaders have been quietly discussing the potential legalization of commercial casinos, primarily behind closed doors. Senate leader Phil Berger, supported by other influential Republicans, has proposed opening a single casino in Rockingham, Anson, or Nash counties. However, local officials in these areas claim they’ve been excluded from these discussions, generating frustration and opposition from the community.

Related: North Carolina's Gambling Expansion Scrutinized for Campaign Contributions

Mixed Feelings on Casino Legalization

The same Cygnal poll revealed that about 55% of North Carolina voters support Berger’s initiative to legalize commercial casinos. Most supporters argue that casinos would bolster the state’s economy and contribute additional tax revenue for public services like education and healthcare. On the other side, 32% of voters oppose the idea, citing concerns about the social and ethical impact of gambling.

Currently, North Carolina is home to just a couple of tribal landbased casinos, but the potential expansion into commercial gaming is a divisive issue.

No Concrete Plans Yet

House Speaker Tim Moore, who backs Berger’s efforts, stated that the initiative is still in the conceptual stage. He also noted that a statewide referendum would be an “unusual” step, as the General Assembly has the authority to pass gambling regulations and laws without public input. However, Moore assured that local communities would have the opportunity to voice their opinions as the proposal progresses.

Aggravating the situation are rumors that Berger has a tentative agreement with The Cordish Companies, a Baltimore-based firm, to manage any newly authorized casinos. The company has been a notable donor to Berger and other state leaders since last year.

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