North Carolina Governor Rejects Controversial Casino-Medicaid Deal

In a bold move, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has firmly rejected a controversial plan put forth by Republican state lawmakers. The plan aimed to tie the long-awaited expansion of Medicaid to an ambitious proposal to significantly expand casino gambling within the state. 

Medicaid Expansion Jeopardized as Governor Cooper Slams Casino Pairing

Gov. Cooper’s decision comes as little surprise, as he had already expressed his reservations about linking these unrelated subjects. On social media, the governor called the proposed pairing “the most brutally dishonest legislative scheme” he had encountered during his more than three decades in politics.

While both Medicaid expansion and casino expansion had at times been tied to the passage of a new state budget, their fates now remain uncertain. Initially, Republicans had voted in favor of Cooper’s efforts to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act earlier this year. However, they conditioned the final expansion on the approval of a state budget for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1.

Similarly, advocates for casino expansion had sought to incorporate their proposal into the budget, but this faced resistance from both Republican and Democratic members of the General Assembly.

Governor Cooper’s rejection of the Republican scheme indicates his willingness to take a stand, even if it jeopardizes the Medicaid expansion he has fervently pursued throughout his two terms in office. This expansion promises affordable health coverage to over 600,000 North Carolinians and will prevent hundreds of premature deaths each year.

Governor’s Concerns Over Gambling Expansion Influence Decision

An administration official close to Cooper revealed that the governor’s decision was influenced by concerns regarding the potential negative consequences of a massive and unprecedented gambling expansion, including the risks of corruption and addiction, reported NC Newsline. Additionally, the projected tax revenue generated by the casino plan appeared to be comparatively modest.

Earlier this year, Gov. Cooper did sign a bill legalizing online sports gambling in the state, a move that garnered bipartisan support in legislative committees and floor votes despite its controversial nature.

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However, while North Carolina is gearing up to launch online sports betting activities next year, and lawmakers are ex lodivip ploring the expansion of casino-style gambling, a recent report revealed that at least eight state lawmakers, including Sen. Phil Berger, received a total of $34,400 in campaign contributions from individuals connected to an out-of-state gambling operator, The Cordish Companies.

While accepting such contributions is not illegal, it has raised concerns among critics and financial analysts about potential unfair advantages as the state considers new casino developments and gambling expansion.