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COMMENTARY: Catawba Casino – An Unwarranted Claim

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On September 13, I reported in this commentary column that the North Carolina Family Policy Council had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to obtain documents related to the Catawba Indians’ effort to build a Las Vegas-style gambling casino in Cleveland County, west of Charlotte. On Wednesday-nearly three months later-we finally received a Fed-Ex package from the Bureau with a disc containing about 250 pages of materials related to the Catawba “project.”

While we are still sifting through these documents, I can comfortably report that our assertions regarding the unwarranted nature of the South Carolina-based Catawba Nation’s claims to a right to buy land and build a gambling casino in North Carolina have not changed one iota. The Tribe (along with others who would profit from the proposed 220,000 square foot casino) has simply set its sights on North Carolina, because efforts to establish a gambling casino in South Carolina have been denied at every turn by the Palmetto State. We will continue to pore over the materials and will report more details in the coming days, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, both N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper and N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin have publically expressed their opposition to the Catawba casino project. They join Governor Pat McCrory, over 100 members of the North Carolina House of Representatives, and prominent leaders of the North Carolina Senate in speaking out against the proposed gambling site.

As I stated back in September, “The last thing North Carolina needs is another gambling facility, especially in a highly populated area off a busy interstate. Any potential economic ‘benefits’ touted by the Catawba Indian Nation would be far outweighed by the devastating social costs of casino gambling on the families of Cleveland County and the surrounding communities. Studies show that gambling facilities not only breed problem and pathological gamblers, but generate the most income off the backs of the victims of gambling addiction.”

(Update: Here is a link to the Raleigh News & Observer’s, December 6 article on the Catawba application.)

All Our Best,

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John L. Rustin

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