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Despite Opposition From Residents and Some Party Members, NCGOP Leaders Continue Push to Pass Casino Bill

Source: The Pilot

Many Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly, including House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, are working hard to legalize casino gambling in parts of North Carolina. 

In a rare case of disharmony within the NCGOP, not everyone is on board with the full-court press to turn North Carolina into a gambling haven. 

North Carolina Rep. Neal Jackson (R-Moore, Randolph), who is also senior pastor at Beulah Baptist Church in Bennett, wrote an op-ed in Moore County’s The Pilot newspaper explaining his opposition to opening casinos and allowing more types of gambling.

Addressing Republicans’ claims that the four new casinos would spur the economy and allow for income tax decreases, Jackson writes, “Some Republican members would have you believe that their plan to introduce more casinos and video poker machines will benefit our state. Their premise is wrong.”

In Jackson’s view, “Casinos have consistently proven to be a strain upon the communities in which they operate,” and he believes that “lawmakers [need] to consider not just the short-term financial promises, but the long-term costs associated with casinos and increased gambling.”

The long-term costs he’s referring to include issues like gambling addiction, drug use, increased crime and strain on understaffed law enforcement agencies. Jackson writes that, based on studies, these are some of the biggest issues that will result from casinos being built in North Carolina.

Jackson explains that another one of his concerns is the “strong effect” that gambling has “on lower income households.” He believes that “poor people are particularly susceptible to the harm caused by gambling” and that the proposed locations for the casinos “are all placed within rural, low-income areas.” 

“This puts people who are the most at-risk for problem gambling closer to the institutions that facilitate and profit off of their addiction. This is a prescription for disaster for these communities,” Jackson writes.

He ended his editorial with a strong message to his Republican colleagues and supporters of the legislation.

“The gaming industry will profit off the social losses of North Carolinians. While your income tax bill might be a few dollars lower, your neighbors will suffer from increases in crime and addiction,” he writes. “The casino owners will win, and the people will lose.”

Considering the support from party leaders, it appears that the legislation has pretty decent odds of passing. But there’s a definite political risk with supporting the bill because many residents of these rural communities are strongly against the legislation – and they know it’s their Republican legislator who is pushing to pass it.

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