February 5, 2014
Commissioner says slot machines on ferries
would raise more money than tolls
By CONNIE LEINBACH
County commissioner John Fletcher thinks the N.C. Department of
Transportation should look into installing slot machines on the
long-haul ferries to help with the revenue crunch.
this idea Feb. 3 at the monthly meeting of the Hyde County Board of
Commissioners. Fletcher is the Ocracoke representative.
money that it takes to run those ferries is considerable,” he said. “To
get legalized slot machines would take a while, but gambling would
generate revenue and more traffic on the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter
A proponent of less government, Fletcher continued
that the residents are stuck on Ocracoke with the state and federal
government wanting more and more fees from them.
“We can stay
like we are or go do something different,” he said. “I’ve been on
international ferries that have slot machines and they generate a lot
Fletcher’s suggestion was met tentatively by the other commissioners.
think about it,” said Barry Swindell, chairman of the board, who, along
with Earl Pugh Jr., was in the Hyde County services building in Swan
Quarter. The other commissioner, Dick Tunnell, was with Fletcher
in the Ocracoke School Commons Room, where the monthly meetings are
televised via Internet hook-up.
Fletcher further explained that the two new, large ferries that make the Pamlico Sound crossing would be ripe for this project.
“All those lounge chairs could be taken out and slot machines put in,” Fletcher said.
noted that it would be a big undertaking for the state to implement
this idea as it would require lots of controls on money and who could
play the machines.
“But it would bring tourists year-round to this area,” he said.
“This would take a legislative law to even allow that,” said Timothy Hass, spokesman for the N.C. Ferry Division.
Vegas-style gambling is allowed in the state only on the properties of
the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina, but citizens
have access to gambling with the state lottery.
in North Carolina used to be against gaming,” Fletcher said. “Then the
state got into the gaming business with the lottery. So, they can’t be
holier than thou (with this idea.)”
Fletcher didn’t know what
the next step would be to float this idea, but he said he would talk to
state Rep. Paul Tine about it.
“If you don’t start something, you don’t get it done,” Fletcher said.