This past Friday night, I had the opportunity to speak in Kings Mountain, N.C. to a group of pastors and other citizens who are deeply troubled by the prospect of an Indian gambling casino being built in their town. If the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation and the gambling interests behind this “project” have their way, a proposed 220,000 square foot casino complex would sit right off of Interstate 85 along the North Carolina/South Carolina border adjacent to Kings Mountain.
At present, the odds seem heavily stacked against the newly formed Kings Mountain Awareness Group. A majority of the Kings Mountain City Council, the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners, and the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce appear to have wholeheartedly bought into the notion that a casino would bring economic prosperity and needed jobs to the area. However, Adam Forcade, the volunteer leader of the Kings Mountain Awareness Group, is not one to back down from a challenge, especially one to which he believes God has called him.
“I did not go out looking for a fight, but I guess this fight came looking for me,” Forcade said. “I love this town, I love this county, and I love this state, and I am not willing to see my community ruined by the gambling industry. Sometimes you just have to get involved, and for me, that time is now.”
Decades of research conducted by the North Carolina Family Policy Council clearly demonstrates the havoc a gambling casino would wreak upon this region of our state. A casino would cannibalize the local economy by siphoning money away from existing hotels, restaurants, retail stores and other businesses. More importantly, a casino would destroy the lives of countless individuals and families who become victimized by an inevitable increase in gambling addiction. Crime, divorce, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, financial hardship, bankruptcy, job loss, homelessness, and attempted and actual suicide all increase when a casino comes to town. These influences are most severe the closer you live to a casino. (See our article Breeding Addiction for Profit in the most recent edition of Family North Carolina magazine for more details.)
I also shared with the group that by no means is this proposed casino a “done deal.” The Catawba Indian Nation filed an application with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs last August requesting the Bureau to take a 16-plus acre parcel of land into trust on the Tribe’s behalf. This is the first step toward securing property for a casino. The Bureau could take months or even years to come to a decision, and there is no guarantee that the government will comply with the Catawba Nation’s request.
Moreover, after studying the issue in-depth, the North Carolina Family Policy Council is more convinced than ever that the “Settlement Agreement” entered into by the Tribe, the United States Congress and the State of South Carolina in 1993, actually prohibits the Catawba Nation from establishing a gambling casino outside of the borders of the State of South Carolina.
Following our discussion of these issues, my good friend and colleague, Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina capped off the evening with a rousing presentation on the inherent moral and spiritual conflict between gambling and the Christian faith.
If you are interested in becoming a part of the Kings Mountain Awareness Group, especially if you live in or around Cleveland or Gaston counties, be sure to “Like” the group’s Facebook page and visit their website at www.stopcatawbacasino.com.