House Speaker Tim Moore has confirmed that the contentious proposal to introduce new casinos in North Carolina lacks the necessary support to be included in the state budget.
In an email sent to the House Republican Caucus on Wednesday night, Moore emphasized that a state budget would not be passed without the backing of at least 61 House GOP votes, constituting a majority in the 120-member House, The News & Observer reported. Moore further noted that there were not enough Republicans willing to support the budget if it included provisions for gaming.
As per the report, Moore has indicated that there would be another caucus meeting scheduled for the following week to discuss the budget, explicitly excluding gaming from the agenda. The report also stated that Moore's spokesperson, Demi Dowdy, confirmed that Moore had sent the email to House Republicans.
The development comes after a coalition of social conservatives, business operators, and political candidates urged lawmakers to reject proposals aimed at permitting additional casinos and legalizing state-wide video gaming machines. Residents from Rockingham, Anson, and Nash counties, previously designated as potential locations for non-tribal casinos within proposed "entertainment districts," visited Raleigh to advocate against this initiative.
The protest followed Rockingham County Board of Commissioners unanimously approving the rezoning of 192 acres of farmland near Madison for highway commercial usage last month, potentially paving the way for a casino development.
During the previous caucus meeting on Tuesday, House Republicans deliberated for over three hours on the proposal, which sought approval for up to four new casinos throughout the state. Moore later informed reporters that GOP leaders were still in the process of assessing whether there was sufficient support within the Republican ranks for the plan.
Meanwhile, Senate leader Phil Berger has expressed his belief that the casino proposal's fate hinges on whether it is incorporated into the budget or discarded entirely.
When asked whether Moore's email suggested that the casino proposal would not advance in any form, including as a standalone bill, Moore spokesperson Demi Dowdy clarified that discussions within the House Republican Caucus were ongoing.
For her part, when asked if casinos will not be in the budget, Sarah Stevens, who is the number two leader for the Republican party in the General Assembly and represents Surry and Wilkes counties, said: "No final decision yet, but not likely in the budget."