It seems that the tide is turning in one
of the more conservative areas of the country when it comes to gambling. The
North Carolina General Assembly, while it weighs whether it will open for
sports betting in the state, has hit the green light for charitable “casino nights”
in the state. This action will allow several “acts of gambling” like blackjack,
poker, roulette and other table games to be played, if it is raising money for
charity. The new regulations even allow for one of the things that was
supposedly taboo at these events, the availability of alcoholic beverages.
Signs Bill After 2017 Veto
On Friday, Governor Roy Cooper signed
legislation that put regulations on the charitable “casino nights.” In the
past, these activities were in a legal limbo and the different counties in the
state treated it as such. In some counties, district attorneys would prosecute the
charities and the operators for illegal gambling, while some counties DAs would
refuse to prosecute. With the bill being signed into law, the activity is now legal.
There is one area of the Tar Heel State
that is barred from any charitable “casino nights.” Any area west of Interstate
26, which stretches from just south of Asheville up to its exit in the Pisgah
National Forest, is still prohibited from holding such activities. The reason?
The exclusive rights of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who operate two
Harrah’s properties in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, and their
casino exclusivity agreement that they have with the state of North Carolina.
Cooper was quite thorough in his look at
this subject. In 2017, he vetoed a similar measure that would have allowed for
the casino nights because he felt that it would bring back video poker
illegally into the state. With the current bill, Cooper was assuaged that this
would not occur, hence his signature to make the bill become a law.
Nights,” Sports Betting…What’s Next?
The passage of the bill regarding “casino
nights” for charity in North Carolina isn’t the only signal that there has been
a thawing of the mood regarding gambling in the state.
The North Carolina Senate passed a bill recently, called S 154, that would open the state for sports betting, albeit in a limited format. The bill would only give the rights to sports betting to the two Harrah’s Cherokee casinos, the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and the Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel. There would be no online sports betting, as any potential punter would have to head to the casinos to place their bets. It is thought that, for those areas around the Cherokee casinos, revenues of $50 million wouldn’t be out of the question, which is leading many in the House to seriously consider the Senate bill.
So, what does this say about the potential for further action in the gaming realm in the Tar Heel State? To be honest, anyone who is a resident of North Carolina should be happy to get this for right now. Live poker took several years to come to the Cherokee casinos and, at first, it was only through electronic tables that players abhorred. There are no indications, even though moves with charitable gaming and sports betting are moving forward, that any other live or online activities are being considered. Thus, players will have to hope that the sports betting option comes home at some point this year and work for some other options in the future.
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