The Citizens for Good Growth in Rockingham County Inc. is the David that went up against the Goliath of the casino gambling industry and won.
Legalizing four new casinos in North Carolina was supposed to be in the North Carolina 2023-2025 budget bill, but the Citizens for Good Growth led the fight to keep that legislation out of the bill and garnered enough support in the state House to defeat it.
As a result of that action, expanded casino gambling won’t be coming to the state this year.
What got the folks in Rockingham County involved in fighting against legalizing more casinos in North Carolina was a 192-acre tract on US 220 near the Guilford County line that the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners rezoned to a zoning district that would allow a massive casino complex to be built on the site.
This week, the Citizens for Good Growth issued a press release with more information about why the Rockingham County commissioners ignored the hundreds of residents who came to their meeting to oppose the rezoning and instead voted unanimously to rezone the tract.
According to the press release, Rockingham County Commissioner Kevin Berger, who is the son of President Pro Tem of the state Senate Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), “admitted that the Rockingham County Commissioners undertook efforts earlier this year to investigate and attract a business involved in casino gambling, an activity that has been and continues to be unlawful in North Carolina.”
The press release states, “Commissioner Berger explained that a trip was taken by Commissioners earlier this year to a Maryland casino affiliated with The Cordish Companies. Commissioner Berger did not explain why he is now free to share information about the secret casino trip but likened withholding information of the trip to recent economic development activities with Ruger and Purina.”
Under the North Carolina open meetings law, secret meetings of elected bodies are not allowed. Meetings to discuss economic development projects can be closed to the public, but the elected body is still required to notify the public of the time and place of those meetings.
The Cordish Companies has connections with NC Development Holdings that requested the rezoning of the 192-acre tract in Rockingham County.