Lumbee Bill to Get Senate Hearing
Special Report - July 10, 2006
The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled a hearing on a bill that would likely bring a gambling casino to eastern North Carolina. A hearing on S660Lumbee Recognition Act, is scheduled for Wednesday, July 12, 2006 at 9:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C. in the Hart Office Building. Sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and cosponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the bill would grant full Federal recognition to the Lumbee Indian Tribe located in Robeson and surrounding counties.
Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council expressed his concern about the legislation. “While the North Carolina Family Policy Council does not oppose federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, we strongly oppose the potential that federal recognition would have toward the expansion of gambling in North Carolina. S660 should be amended to expressly prohibit the Lumbee Tribe from obtaining the authorization to conduct any form of gambling in North Carolina.”
Under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, any tribe having Federal recognition and possessing Indian land has the right to request a compact from the Governor of the state in which they are located to conduct any type of gambling operations allowed in the state. Under this law in 1994, then Governor of North Carolina, James B. Hunt, Jr., granted the Cherokee tribe in western North Carolina a compact to conduct gambling operations, which at that time was limited to bingo, later the Cherokee added video poker. Subsequently, the Cherokee expanded their video poker casino to an operation that reportedly generates more than $150 million in profits and has become the largest private tourist attraction in North Carolina with over 4 million visits per year. This year, the tribe has sought to add an additional casino, to expand a two-tower hotel, and begin offering Las Vegas style gambling in addition to the video poker games they now have.
Analysis by the North Carolina Family Policy Council indicates that the Lumbee, once granted full Federal recognition, would likely obtain the right to gamble, similar to that currently possessed by the Cherokee Tribe with no necessary action by the North Carolina General Assembly. If S660 passes the U.S. Senate and then is approved by the U.S. House, it is likely that action could lead to a very large casino being built near I-95 in Robeson County. John Kindt, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an expert in gambling economics, has estimated that a casino in this location could generate a gross annual income of $1 billion. The economic impact would be a huge drain on the economy of eastern North Carolina and would greatly increase the incidence of pathological gambling and the many problems to families that are caused by gambling addictions.
To read more about the impact expanded Indian gambling will have on the state, download our paper Lumbee Casino Gambling: Would Another Casino Be Good for North Carolina?
Copyright © 2006. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.