North Carolina has several ongoing gaming lawsuits as some residents are championing for the expansion of online gaming. A lawsuit was filed in October naming the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners. It questioned the legality of their move to rezone almost 193 acres for a casino resort in the region.
The county is south of the Virginia and North Carolina border. However, some people don’t want it to host a casino.
Rockingham commissioners accepted a rezoning application in August hence giving a green light for a gaming project on the 192.7 acres of land along US 220 and north of Carefree Lane. NC Development Holdings made the rezoning application. It is The Cordish Companies’ subsidiary. Still, the real estate developer manages three gaming properties in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The Rockingham County Board of Commissioners’ rezoning request approval triggered rumors that North Carolina’s Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger was championing for the approval of casinos in Nash, Anson, and Rockingham counties. The lawmaker attempted to introduce a provision in North Carolina’s 2023-2025 budget bill.
Yet, he sought to offer NC Development Holdings gaming opportunities in Rockingham. Reports claim that specific political donations link The Cordish Companies to Republican legislators and Berger. For example, Joseph Winberg, Cordish’s Gaming Division’s CEO, gave the Senate President a $5,600 donation.
The County Officials’ Rezoning Defense
Some residents and county officials in the three counties made Democrats and Republicans not back Berger’s gaming drive in the Tar Heel State. For instance, some Rockingham residents sued the county, accusing its commissioners of ignoring key legal requirements in starting the land rezoning process from residential or agricultural to commercial.
Camp Carefree owners led the case. The nonprofit entity provides disabled children and those with chronic illnesses with free summer camps. The lawsuit’s plaintiffs stated that the commissioners’ action was inappropriate when reviewing The Cordish Companies’ rezoning request.
They added that Rockingham commissioners partnered with the gaming company to advocate for a high-end casino in the region. Nevertheless, the commissioners wrote in the lawsuit’s response that the legal action lacks merit and they are confident that a judge will dismiss it soon.
Their response explained that the land is along the future Interstate 73 and the area nearby is expected to grow fast for several decades. The commissioners stated that they adhered to rezoning regulations, sought the public’s input and unified development ordinances (UDOs) before making the unanimous rezoning approval.
The State’s Ongoing Gaming Stalemate
Berger’s casino campaign lacked enough support for it to succeed. He stated that casinos would retain gaming money in North Carolina since players wouldn’t have to visit Virginia to gamble. The neighboring state is launching more brick-and-mortar casinos of late.
House Speaker Tim Moore(R-Cleveland) and Berger are likely to revive the gaming campaign in 2024. Moore supported Berger’s drive before withdrawing his support. He stated in October that North Carolina needs to allow gamblers to play at local casinos.