A majority of North Carolina’s registered voters support allowing commercial casino gambling in the state, according to a new poll conducted less than a year after lawmakers legalized sports betting.

The Meredith Poll surveyed 760 North Carolina residents at the end of January 2023. When asked if they would support a measure to regulate commercial casinos in the state, 57% said they would strongly (24%) or somewhat (33%) support it. Only 35% opposed, with 16% somewhat and 19% strongly against the proposal.

Majority Support Across Demographics

The poll showed majority support for expanding gaming options across nearly all demographic categories in North Carolina:

  • 60.5% of Democratic voters voiced support
  • 54.9% of Republican voters voiced support
  • 53% of independent voters voiced support
  • 56.2% of Caucasian voters voiced support
  • 52.3% of Black voters voiced support
  • 50.1% of Hispanic/Latino voters voiced support

Additionally, every age group polled backed the legalization of commercial casinos, with the strongest support from voters aged 41-56 at 60.4%.

Attempt to Legalize Casinos Failed in 2022

Last year, top Republican state lawmakers proposed allowing four commercial casinos to open in North Carolina. One license would have gone to the Lumbee Tribe, while the other three would have been competitively bid for sites in Anson, Nash, and Rockingham counties.

However, the proposal failed to gain enough support among House Republicans. It also faced local opposition in Rockingham County, located in Senate leader Phil Berger’s own district.

Four commercial casinos recently opened just across the state border in Virginia. Michael McLennan, director of the Meredith Poll, suggested this growing acceptance of casino gaming in neighboring states contributed to majority support among North Carolina voters.

North Carolina Sports Betting Launch Nears

While the attempt to legalize casinos stalled, North Carolina did pass statewide online sports betting last June. Sports betting operators are gearing up for launch in the coming weeks.

North Carolina sports betting apps should go live on March 21st, allowing state residents age 21 and up to wager on sports online. Multiple sportsbooks will operate in the state under the oversight of the North Carolina Education Lottery.

BetMGM recently secured market access in partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The BetMGM North Carolina bonus code for launch should grant new users $200 in free bets as well as other North Carolina sportsbook promos.

KeyFactors Voters Will Consider

As legislators debate legalizing commercial casinos again in 2024, supporters will likely emphasize the state tax revenue and jobs casinos could generate. However, opponents may raise concerns over potential social costs.

Voters inclined to support legal casinos could consider the following factors:

Revenue and Economic Impact

  • Taxes on casino gaming could fund education, infrastructure, health services
  • Casinos stimulate tourism spending on hotels, restaurants
  • Provide jobs at the casinos themselves

Regulating an Existing Industry

  • Casinos already operate on tribal land in North Carolina
  • Neighboring states with legal casinos attract North Carolina residents

Limited Locations

  • Proposed bill only allowed casinos in a few counties, mainly rural areas
  • Keeps casinos away from highly populated regions

Personal Freedoms

  • Adults should have the freedom to participate if they choose
  • Legal gaming better than unregulated black market

Major Counterarguments from Opponents

Meanwhile, opponents concerned about the societal impact of expanded gambling may argue:

Increased Costs Outweigh Benefits

  • Financial and emotional damage to problem gamblers and families
  • Potential uptick in bankruptcies and crime

Undesirable Businesses

  • Casinos bring higher rates of prostitution, drugs, etc.
  • State shouldn’t actively promote vice

Siphons Money from Local Economies

  • Money spent gambling leaves the local economy
  • Hurts existing restaurants and entertainment

Disproportionate Harm

  • Poorer communities likely to be hurt most
  • Worsens income inequality overall

With North Carolina gearing up to launch legal sports betting in the coming weeks, voter support for further gaming expansion will be closely watched ahead of the 2024 legislative session.

✅ Updated on February 24, 2024 by Frank Sutton