Author Archives: joseph

Las Vegas Ready to Welcome Fontainebleau Mega-Resort

Compared to most other cities in the US and world there is always something new happening in Las Vegas, and more often than not these happenings occur on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. Anyone flying into Las Vegas will notice The Sphere, a perpetually illuminated concert venue that has hosted some of the biggest names in music and entertainment. Also on 2023’s list of big events was the F1 Race, which took over Sin City and saw a ticketed crowd of over 300,000. Next up is the grand opening of the Fontainebleau Casino Resort, which is scheduled to take place on December 13th, just in time for Christmas.

To many, the opening of a new resort on the Las Vegas Strip is anything but news. But as was previously mentioned, the sheer scale of the Fontainebleau project will leave even Vegas locals in awe.

What To Expect on the Floor and in the Rooms?

If you recognize the Fontainebleau name, that is because of the Miami resort hotel that bears the same name. The Miami location was opened more than 70 years ago and regularly plays host to the rich and famous. The Las Vegas Fontainebleau is hoping to live up to the allure and glamour of its Miami predecessor, and judging by the cover it seems as though it is well on track to doing exactly that.

As far as size is concerned, the Fontainebleau will sit on almost 25 acres of land and boast 3,500+ hotel rooms. If 3,500 sounds like a lot of rooms, that’s because it is. Not only do very few other Las Vegas resort casinos feature anywhere near that number of rooms, the last time a hotel of this size was built on The Strip was more than 10 years ago, according to Forbes. Adding to this is the 67 total floors, which will make the Fontainebleau the tallest building in Nevada that can be occupied by people.

The casino floor will rival the largest in Las Vegas as well, with operators aiming for a modern luxury experience that is supposed to feel spacious, even when crowds are at their peak. The main casino floor will occupy 150,000 square feet with all the usual table games and slots expected to be featured. An interesting tidbit is that casino owners have remained mostly hush-hush about what exactly, and in what numbers, will be featured on the casino floor.

The pool area is also something to behold, clocking in at more six acres and playing host to multiple restaurants and bars. The large pool area is going to have more than 2,000 square feet of gaming space, and we anticipate at least some of the pool area will be dedicated to swim-up gaming like you see at Caesars.

Situated on the Northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, the Fontainebleau is a good distance from places like The Venetian and Cosmopolitan, but is so large that many guests may not even feel the need to leave. As has been the case in the past, the story with the Fontainebleau will soon become less about the grand opening and more about how well the mega-resort is filling both rooms and the gaming floor. With a new LIV Nightclub also occupying the resort’s grounds it is difficult to believe Fontainebleau will have any difficulty finding footing in the desert, but history offers proof that even the biggest names can struggle to survive in Las Vegas.

Hacking Group That Targeted MGM, Caesars Still on the Loose

Earlier this year we covered a story about an online hacking group that wreaked havoc on both MGM and Caesars, costing both companies millions of dollars. Now, months later, other companies as well as cybersecurity groups are saying that not only is Scattered Spider still around, they are continuing to disrupt businesses on a large scale.

This is especially interesting when you consider that, by most estimates, this US-based group is small and loosely organized.Attention is now being turned to the FBI as many of the companies that have been victimized by this group are saying enough is not being done. Sources say that at least 12 of Scattered Spider’s members are known by law enforcement, however there has been little in the way of legal action taken as yet.

Will More Casinos Be Targeted?

Last summer, Scattered Spider attacked both Caesars and MGM at the corporate levels. These attacks saw business operations both online and at resorts interrupted, with things getting so severe that hotel room keys would not allow guests access to their room. It did not take the two casino operators long to rectify the issues, but by the time the dust settled more than $100 million in damages were done. What’s more, Scattered Spider was paid over $15 million in ransom money.

It isn’t just casino operators either, as CrowdStrike, an online data security company, was also targeted by Scattered Spider this year. Fewer details are known about the monetary damages done during that attack, but CrowdStrike president, Michael Sentonas, was not shy when talking with Reuters about the lack of law enforcement action. “I would love for someone to explain it to me,” said Sentonas. He went on to say that “for such a small group, they are absolutely causing havoc.”

In statements released to the public, the FBI said that they are still investigating the hacks that impacted Caesars and MGM, but declined to provide much of any further detail. In fact, the FBI has not even named Scattered Spider or any other group as being the perpetrators of the MGM and Caesars hacks.

Despite the FBI’s insistence that an investigation is and has been going on, there have been more than 200 hacking attacks attributed to Scattered Spider since 2021, according to cybersecurity firm ZeroFox. ZeroFox was the company that helped Caesars contain the hacking event and its negative consequences. Speaking to the lack of action taken by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, ZeroFox’s CEO James Foster explained that the issue is manpower, or the lack thereof. In Foster’s words, “Law enforcement, certainly at the Federal Level has all the tools and resources they need to be successful in going after cyber criminals. They just don’t have enough people.”

This sobering reality is one that should be heeded by companies across all industries, but especially casino operators. With an increasing number of casinos taking their operations online in states where that is legal, the threat of hacking continues to grow. Scattered Spider is just one of many hacking groups from all over the world, all of which have the same goal of disrupting business operations and ultimately stealing money.

New York Mets Owner Proposes Citi Field Casino Project

For a long while, the state of New York was behind the times when it came to casino gambling and sports betting. In a recent shift however, New York is beginning to warm up to the idea of legalized gambling as they now have online gambling operations and a few casinos in the Upstate region. With the state’s gambling regulators set to offer three new casino licenses in the Downstate part of New York, there is fierce competition for these limited licenses. The most recent entrant into the race to open up a full-fledged New York City casino is Steve Cohen, the billionaire owner of the New York Mets baseball team.

Cohen’s proposed idea is expected to cost more than $8 billion and will turn the area immediately surrounding the Mets’ Citi Field into a casino, hotel, and concert venue. Cohen has teamed up with Hard Rock International in putting this compelling vision together, but they are far from the only horse in the race and it will be intriguing to see who state regulators choose, and why.

Challenges Posed, But Locals Supportive

The plan to bring an $8 billion casino, hotel, and concert venue into a New York neighborhood with more than 2.2 million residents presents some obvious and some not-so-obvious challenges. The first and most obvious challenge is the space that is needed, but Cohen plans to use roughly 50 acres of land that is currently used for Citi Field parking lots. Even though Cohen and Hard Rock have the land readily available to use, it will still be up to state and local authorities to grant the land use permits that will be needed to begin construction.

Another challenge is the fact that Cohen and Hard Rock are up against fierce competition that is fighting over only three casino licenses. With other casino locations proposed for Times Square, Coney Island, Hudson Yards, and other high-profile places in the city, the Citi Field plan is far from the only option on the table. What’s more, two New York City-area racetracks that currently offer slots are also vying for these licenses, and they think their experience and the fact they have been running a casino business in the area means they should be first in line. As of now, there is little indication which direction the state gaming control board is leaning toward when it comes to granting these three Downstate licenses, and we are expecting more casino proposals to enter the race before long.

With all of that being said, early indication from the residents of Queens is that a casino/concert venue like the one Cohen has proposed will be welcomed with open arms. Behind calls to revitalize and build up the neighborhood, residents seems excited at the prospect of their beloved Mets’ stadium being further beautified.

Cohen and Hard Rock may not be breaking ground on the actual construction of this $8 billion mega-site anytime soon, but they are laying the groundwork for doing exactly that. For months now, Cohen and his team have been using lobbyists, gaining support from local officials, and even trying to win over everyday citizens. It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the fight for Downstate New York casino licenses, but early indications are that we are in for a great watch as competing parties fight it out. New York City is not likely to turn into a Las Vegas-type gambling hub, but it is encouraging to see them opening their doors to the idea of more casinos in the area.

Las Vegas Casinos Unsure What to do About Trespassers

In Las Vegas, the world’s mecca for casino gambling, the number of wild and crazy stories that originate every single day could fill not just a book, but a library of books. From petty thefts to crimes as serious as murder—and just about everything in between—Las Vegas has seen it all. More recently, a problem has arisen that casinos are not quite sure how to contend with. In a way, this problem has probably existed for a while but is only now gaining attention thanks to the sheer number of people and casinos in the city.

The issue at hand is what a casino is supposed to do when a person who has been asked to leave their property comes back and wins money. In other words, if someone consumes too much alcohol and causes a disturbance on the casino floor, the casino is well within its right to remove that person or even permanently ban them. This is something that happens all the time. What casinos are now having to deal with are situations where a banned person comes back and wins money. The casino does not want to pay this person out because they were not supposed to be there, but a recent ruling shows that the casinos often have no choice in the matter.

Banned Patrons Winning Jackpots?

One of the more recent events that took place in Las Vegas occurred at the Casablanca hotel-casino back in early October. A patron who had previously been ordered off the property on numerous occasions for a variety of different offenses came back and won more than $2,000 on a slot machine. When the patron was due to be paid out their winnings by the casino, the casino attendants instead came out and informed the patron that they were not going to be paid out because they were not supposed to be there in the first place.

That argument may be valid in the eyes of conventional wisdom, but in the eyes of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the serial trespasser was entitled to their winnings.

This is just one incident, but in Las Vegas and elsewhere around the country this is an issue that is only growing worse. In Las Vegas specifically, decades-old regulations mean that even being criminally trespassed from a casino will not prevent a player from being paid out their winnings. This, combined with the extremely low level of the offense in the eyes of the law, mean that banned players are hardly deterred from reentering a casino and playing there.

According to Fox Las Vegas, this past July alone saw more than 80 criminal cases relating to casino trespassers brought before the courts. With this type of caseload, it is impossible for the courts to keep up and even more difficult for the casinos to keep away those that they have determined to be a problem. Increased penalties for trespassers—and especially repeat offenders—seems like the obvious answer, but that type of action is not even being talked about right now. For the time being, the casinos and those they trespass will continue playing a permanent game of cat and mouse, and the casino will be on the hook if those banned players end up winning money.

Bally’s Locks in Permanent Gambling License in Chicago

Up until about five years ago, Illinois did not have much in the way of legal gambling options available. There was no legal sports betting, online gambling did not exist, and brick and mortar casinos were only just being talked about. This week, Illinois gambling regulators granted Bally’s a full license to operate at what was supposed to be a temporary location until 2026. The permanent license being granted means that gamblers can still enjoy what Bally’s has to offer at the current Medinah Temple location until a full-scale, permanent gambling facility is constructed in the city’s River West neighborhood.

Quick Action Taken by Illinois Gambling Authorities

The Medinah Temple location opened under Bally’s name just this past September so it is surprising that a permanent license was granted with such speed. Last month, Illinois Gambling Board member Marcus Fruchter awarded Bally’s with a temporary license that would allow them to operate at 600 N. Wabash Avenue for the foreseeable future. This temporary license was given while the gambling regulatory authorities decided on whether to pass Bally’s plans for a massive gambling hub located elsewhere in the city.

Since then, the authorities in Illinois unanimously voted to pass Bally’s plans, and have slated the latter stages of September 2026 for when the casino will open its doors for business. The plan envisioned by Bally’s is expected to cost in upwards of $2 billion and was chosen by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot over three other major casino bids.

Now, Bally’s has until September 9th, 2026 to complete its massive casino resort plan. Under Illinois state law, prospective casino operators can apply for a license that allows them to operate out of a temporary location for two years, with the option of a third year if needed.

Construction on Bally’s Chicago casino is not expected to begin until the middle of next summer, when they take over the old Chicago Tribune printing plant that has since shut down.

What Does the Medinah Temple Location Have to Offer?

Since opening last month, the current, temporary Medinah Temple Bally’s location has seen nearly 150,000 people come through the door. All told, the temporary location has more than 800 slot machines and more than 50 table games. To put into perspective just how big the permanent location will be, it is expected to have more than 3,000 slots and nearly 200 table games.

As is the case anytime a new casino is welcomed to the area, the primary concern for lawmakers is just how much tax revenue will be brought in from both the temporary and permanent Bally’s Chicago locations. As it stands, the temporary location at Medinah Temple is falling well short of the tax revenue it promised former Mayor Lightfoot, but the outlook for the future is still positive. By the end of 2024, it is expected that Medinah Temple will create $34 million in tax revenue while the permanent location, once up and running, will create more than $200 million in annual tax revenue. For both the city of Chicago’s gamblers and lawmakers, the move made by Bally’s seems to be a win for everyone.

Caesars, MGM Raise Questions About Unfair Power Bills

Don’t make ratepayers foot the bill for power grid company improvement projects. This is the call companies like Caesars and MGM have been making to the state of Nevada in response to rate hikes on power bills instituted by Nevada’s NV Energy. According to lawyers representing the casinos, NV Energy’s impending rate hikes will see consumers (the casinos) pay more than $30 million more per year in order to fund a project known as Greenlink. NV Energy refutes these claims but is hesitating from directly answering the calls for transparency coming from the casinos.

A Red-Hot Debate Ensues

The aforementioned Greenlink project is not necessarily what Las Vegas casino owners are concerned about, but rather how that project is being funded. The project, which is valued at $2.5 billion involves the construction of infrastructure that would make energy generated from the state’s growing number of solar farms viable on a large scale. In other words, Greenlink will carry the electricity from the solar farms to the consumers at large.

Year’s ago, NV Energy promised customers that the Greenlink project would not result in any rate

increases. As you might expect, casinos loved the sound of this project because it meant that current rates would remain stagnant while future rates had the potential to fall thanks to the influx of solar energy to Nevada’s grid. Now, lawyers argue, NV Energy is going back on its word and is increasing rates substantially.

At the crux of the issue is a filing with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission NV Energy made in June. This filing said, in part, that “annual revenue requirement for general rates charged to all classes of electric customers.” Rather than the already-approved 9.4% ROE approved by the state, NV Energy is asking for the approval of a 10.2% rate. This increased mark-up would result in customers paying out more than $30 million.

Capital Expenditures Cited by NV Energy

NV Energy responded to the claims made by Nevada’s casinos quickly by saying the rate increase is due to different factors, with “capital expenditures” being only one of them. In fact, NV Energy went as far to say that these capital expenditures encompass much more than Greenlink alone. “Immaterial” is the word NV Energy used to describe the allegations being made by the state’s casinos.

Before the Public Utilities Commission can approve the ROE increase asked for by NV, the casinos are asking that the exact needs for the increase be explained. So far, NV Energy has denied all allegations levied against them but has not done much in the way of answering the concerns being raised.

If NV Energy can prove to the casinos (and the public) that their ROE increase request is, in fact, legitimate and not simply due to needing increased funding for infrastructure projects, everyone would be able to sleep a little more easily.

Being a monopoly and the only energy provider in the state of Nevada, it is safe to say that the casino giants are up against giants themselves with this battle. On its face this may not seem like an issue worthy of a casino gambler’s attention, but the simple fact of the matter is that increased electricity rates to cool and power Las Vegas casinos will trickle down. This means increased room rates, larger dinner bills, and so on. With that in mind, this is an incredibly important issue for the state with, by far, the most casinos in the US.

Richmond Casino Plans Back on the Ballot

Despite Virginia still not having a casino in any major metro area, there was a time when Richmond seemed destined to be the first domino to fall. Back in 2021, voters in the city were tasked with voting on a simple matter; whether or not a casino would be allowed to exist in Richmond. With more than $2.5 million in pro-casino lobbying money spent there were few industry experts who were expecting the referendum to be struck down. Struck down is exactly what the referendum was however, and it was back to the drawing board for those that wanted to bring casino gambling to Richmond.

Fast forward almost exactly two years and the residents of Richmond are being called to vote on a similar proposal. On the back of calls for increased revenue and jobs, pro-casino lobbying efforts are in full swing and the future of Richmond as a hub for casino gambling in Virginia is yet again going to be decided.

Breaking Down the Referendum

Urban One and Churchill Downs are the two companies working hardest to see the referendum passed because they are the same two groups who have masterminded it. The final product will be known as the Richmond Grand Resort & Casino, and if everything goes to plan next month doors will be opened for business within three years, by mid-2026.

The casino, while a hot-button issue in Richmond, is only a part of the overall plan as Urban One and Churchill Downs have plans to build much more than only a gambling destination. Slated to be complete in 2029, the whole project will encompass more than 100 acres and will include a public park, restaurants, hotels, a concert venue, and much more. Early estimations indicate that over 1,000 and as many as 1,300 jobs could be permanently created by the time this resort casino vision has been brought to life.

Included in the plan are guaranteed, livable minimum wages for resort employees and guarantees that the average annual compensation of employees will exceed $55,000. Because of these types of guaranteed protections for workers, it should come as no surprise that organized labor union have been supportive of the casino referendum. The inclusion of labor unions will also, according to many, ensure that the promises being made now are kept in the future.

Dealing with Detractors

Anytime there is mention of a casino project being voted upon it is only natural that anti-casino lobbying efforts come to town as well. Back in 2021, anti-casino lobbyists were outspent by more than 10x and still managed to declare victory. The expenditure on the part of those against the casino project has not increased by any significant margin this time around, but the questions being raised are different.

Rather than the usual concerns like the fear of a rise in crime in the areas around the casino, opponents are now calling into question the legitimacy of the project itself. Whether it be questioning the financial solvency of Urban One or pointing to ambiguity as it relates to the project’s funding, there are questions being asked.

If the people of Richmond vote Yes and the referendum is passed, construction is set to begin within a year and is expected to be completed in about two and a half years. If the referendum is yet again struck down however, there is thought that this could be the last chance Richmond has for a casino in a while. It is not very often that legislators present the same referendum to their citizens three times, and so a no vote is thought to be a death blow for casinos in Richmond, at least in the near-term.

Developer Eyes Casino in Northern Virginia, but Approvals Still Needed

As far as states in the Eastern US are concerned, Virginia is lagging behind many of its neighbors in one very noticeable way. Despite its massive population, high number of tourists, and proximity to the halls of power in the United States, Northern Virginia—and Virginia in general—do not have a casino to call their own. Instead, gamblers who touch down at Washington Dulles International Airport are forced to travel to Maryland or West Virginia in order to play real money slots and table games.

One developer in Fairfax, Virginia is looking to change that by building a large-scale casino resort within a stone’s throw of Washington DC. While this idea, like so many involving casinos, looks to be a good one on paper, there is a lot more heavy lifting needed to be done before anyone is gambling in Northern Virginia.

Battle for Approvals Begins

Comstock is the name of the real estate development company behind the idea to bring a casino to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro area, which is located just minutes from Dulles Airport by either car or metro.

For perspective, the proposed casino location sits roughly 10 miles from downtown DC, which is about the same distance that MGM National Harbor is from downtown. The key difference between the proposed location and National Harbor is the fact that passengers leaving Dulles and heading into DC will quite literally have to pass the newly proposed casino. National Harbor, on the other hand, is more out of the way, especially for those arriving into Washington DC by air.

Getting Virginia Lawmakers on Board

This all sounds like a great idea, but the reality of the matter is that Northern Virginia will probably be waiting a while before any construction begins. The reason for this is due to the fact that first, Comstock must convince the Virginia General Assembly to approve the plan. This may not seem like a big hurdle at first, but when you look at Virginia’s politics it becomes easy to see why Comstock may not have such of an easy go of things.

You see, Northern Virginia and Southern Virginia might as well be two different states. On its face and at a very high level, Comstock’s challenge is going to be to convince lawmakers from more rural areas of the state to vote in favor of the casino proposal. Historically and spanning many different issues, this is a task that is much easier said than done.

If and when Comstock can get the approval of Virginia lawmakers, it will then be up to local voters to determine whether a casino can exist in Fairfax County or not. The early indications are that Comstock will not face nearly as much pushback when it comes to local voting, but we are still a long way from even considering that outcome.

What’s Next?

If all goes to plan and the proponents of the Fairfax, Virginia casino bill remain in office after the upcoming November elections, the bill should be back on the legislative agenda in early 2024. At that point the legislation will go through committees and, with luck, will be voted upon. A lot of things need to go right in order for this to happen, but local lawmakers are hopeful.

With any luck, the residents of Fairfax, Virginia will have a better idea of whether or not a casino will be coming to town by springtime next year. As we have seen time and time again in other states though, that projected timeline is likely to be pushed back continuously.

MGM Online Casino Cyber Attack Blamed on Hackers

Online casinos are a great way for players to derive the whole casino experience from the comfort of their homes, and Americans are learning this at a rapid rate as more and more states legalize online casinos. With that said, the dawn of US online casinos has also presented hacking groups with opportunities to steal money and personal information. Though hacking events in the US online casino industry are far from rampant, they do happen. In fact, MGM was the recent victim of a hacking event and investigation has revealed that the people behind the recent hack are from a well-known hacking group based in the West.

Through a series of phishing attemps, a hacking group was able to infiltrate MGM servers and wreak havoc on the online casino operator. The hack was dealt with and is no longer a problem, but for MGM and online casino players alike, there is a lot more that needs to be found out.

Hacking Attempts Happening with Increased Frequency

The group behind the attack on MGM is known as Scattered Spider, and what this organization does is target employees and help desks in order to garner login credentials. Once the hacking group has credentials that get them into MGM’s private servers, they are able to see personal information of players, including banking information and personal details like social security numbers.

In response to this most recent successful attack, MGM was forced to shut down a number of internal networks so that the hackers who gained access to the networks were not able to inflict the damaged they inteded on inflicting.

While shutting down internal networks until the problem is identified and fixed seems easy and pain-free enough, the reality last weekend for both online and in-person gamblers was a nightmarish one. Slot machines did not work, online payments did not function, and even some room keys at MGM’s many hotels did not work. This meant that there were thousands of gamblers in Las Vegas this past weekend that could not gamble and, on occasion, could not even get back into their hotel rooms. Though the hacking event does not seem, at least initially, to have resulted in anyone’s personal or banking information being taken, it has cost MGM millions of dollars to deal with and rectify.

New Hacking Group Utilizing Tried and True Methods

In the realm of hacking groups, Scattered Spider is a new one. Though they have not even been active for two years, they are already making a name for themselves by way of targeting dozens, maybe even hundreds, of US and Canadian businesses. Unlike most other hacking groups that have ties to Russia, Scattered Spider seems to be a North American or European-based group. Though they are a new entrant, their methods of attack are not.

Scattered Spider works by gaining entry to the back-end of companies and then either locking parts of a network or holding personal information for ransom. Once the company pays the requested ransom, Scattered Spider will either unlock the frozen network and/or return the stolen information. This practice is a simple one, but is also one that can cost a company millions of dollars.

Hackers like this are sophisticated, so before ever launching an attack, Scattered Spider will find people who work for the intended target company, learn as much about them as possible, and use this information to trick the company into thinking the hackers are actually an employee. Unaware that the person they are dealing with is actually a hacking group, companies will help “employees” recover passwords and access to email accounts. In reality, they are simply handing over login credentials to the hacking group. Once in the network via approved credentials, the hackers get to work stealing and locking whatever it is they intend to hold for ransom. If the company does not pay the ransom, Scattered Spider will continue disrupting business.

Online casinos in the US and around the world employ robust methods in order to fight hackers, but as we see time and time again, hackers are successful in thwarting these safeguards. While the hacking event that targeted MGM has since been resolved, it is surely not the last we will hear of. As the United States continues to expand its online and in-person gambling networks, you can expect to hear more about Scattered Spider. Hacking will never go away, but it is situations like this that will help companies in their effort to stay one step ahead of phishing and ransomware attacks such as these.

NC Lawmakers to Weigh Adding More Casinos

Up and down the east coast, states are continuously expanding on their forays into the world of legalized gambling. In states like Maryland and Massachusetts this has come in the form of recently established online sportsbooks, and in states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey there seems to be new online and brick and mortar casinos coming into play every quarter. As you move further south, below Virginia for example, legalized and regulated gambling markets are more difficult to come by.

North Carolina is an interesting state when it comes to gambling because it is not entirely devoid of it, but it is also far from a gambling destination. The best illustration of this is the location of the state’s three casinos, all of which are owned and operated by Native American tribes. As it presently exists, North Carolina state law does not sanction the existence of casinos, whether online or otherwise. For this reason, the only casinos you will find are located far from major population centers like Raleigh and Charlotte, making them difficult to access for the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians. Lawmakers who are looking to secure both increased tax revenue for the state and reelection for themselves have taken note of the warming views on casino gambling and are beginning to discuss the steps needed to be taken to make North Carolina more competitive with its east coast neighbors, particularly Virginia.

Small First Steps Being Taken, Legislation Awaited

In the wake of the upcoming Labor Day holiday, North Carolina Republicans are planning to hold formal discussions about what legalizing casino gambling would look like. On its face this is exciting news, but North Carolina House Speaker, Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), was quick to temper expectations by making it clear that legalized gambling is still a long way away. Speaking to the infancy of this endeavor, Moore said, “At the end of the day, we haven’t had a definitive proposal laid on the table for caucus members to discuss, for them to weigh in one way or another. It’s all been a conceptual discussion.”

The discussion may be conceptual in its current form, but lawmakers have already begun throwing around plans that would allow for the establishment of casinos in Rockingham County (near Greensboro), Nash County (near Rocky Mount and home to a 10+ mile stretch of Interstate 95), Anson County (east of Charlotte), and on Lumbee tribal lands.

These particular counties were chosen strategically, of course. They are home to or located near large population centers and tourist thoroughfares, but also home to local lawmakers who have expressed interest in welcoming casinos. The phrase being used continuously within this discussion is “entertainment district”. The theoretical North Carolina casinos, once established, will exist within so-called entertainment districts, where there will be restaurants, shopping, and living spaces in addition to a casino location. This is not dissimilar to approaches taken by states like Maryland and is thought to have a higher likelihood for success because the plan focuses on economic development on the whole, rather than simply bringing gambling to North Carolina for the sake of doing so.

Also mentioned was bringing video lottery terminals to locations all over North Carolina. There is not much indication as to what this will look like, but the thought is something similar to Virginia, where these gaming terminals exist anywhere from bars and restaurants to gas stations and liquor stores.

More Organization Needed to Move Forward

As is so often the case, the plan for bringing casinos to North Carolina is one that looks and sounds good on paper but is much more difficult to bring to fruition in the real world. Chief amongst the challenges to expanding legalized gambling in North Carolina is the fact that it is still a divisive issue. Recent polls indicate that upwards of 55% of North Carolinians (and even higher percentages in the aforementioned counties) support expanding legalized gambling. This is a majority, but not one that can be relied upon. Especially when most citizens have expressed a desire for a referendum on gambling expansion, not a bill written behind closed doors and voted upon by only a few senators and representatives.

No matter what way you flip it, North Carolina needs more concrete steps forward before anyone can get overly excited at the prospect of more casinos being built. At its core, it is an encouraging sign that state lawmakers are entertaining the issue of expansion, but the reality is that a significant amount of work is needed before more casinos are sanctioned in North Carolina.