Catawba Tribe Seeks NC Casino

Special Report - August 19, 2013

According to recent media reports, officials within Governor Pat McCrory’s administration have been engaged in discussions with members of the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation, which is exploring the development of a gambling casino off of Interstate 85 near Kings Mountain close to the North Carolina-South Carolina border. The Raleigh News & Observer broke the story Thursday evening, when it reported that the governor’s senior advisor for jobs and the economy, Tony Almeida, has met with officials in Cleveland County to discuss the potential of allowing the Catawba Indian Nation to build a gambling venue in North Carolina. Cleveland County Commission chairman Ronnie Hawkins told the paper that the discussion with Almeida included the possibility of a casino, hotel, and other operations. Reportedly, the Board of Commissioners has also written a letter to the governor in support of the project.

“Locating a gambling casino along the I-85 corridor in Cleveland County would be devastating to the surrounding area,” said John L. Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Not only would a casino cannibalize an already suffering local economy, but it would wreak havoc on the lives of individuals and families in North Carolina, South Carolina and beyond who become victimized by the ravages of gambling addiction. We urge Governor McCrory to take a hard stand against gambling expansion in North Carolina and cease any and all discussions regarding a casino with the Catawba Indian Nation.”

The Catawba Indian Nation is a federally-recognized tribe of over 2,800 members living in South Carolina and North Carolina. The Nation is not a state-recognized Indian tribe in North Carolina, nor does it own any land in the state. In December 2012, the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs considered a recommendation that the state recognize the Catawba Indian Nation, but the proposal was not included as part of the Commission’s 2013 legislative agenda. The Catawba tribe is currently a party in a lawsuit pushing for casino gambling to be allowed on its over 600-acre reservation in South Carolina.

Federal law requires that any gambling operations provided by Indian tribes take place on Indian lands and be governed by an agreement, or “Compact,” with the state. That agreement often includes revenue-sharing, and must be approved by the U.S Department of the Interior. Based on its existing compact with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Western North Carolina, the state would be hard-pressed to deny any other federally recognized Indian Tribe the same forms of gambling utilized by the Eastern Band including video gambling and full-blown Las Vegas-style gambling such as craps, roulette, blackjack and poker with live dealers.

Leading lawmakers are already expressing opposition to the idea of the State allowing another Indian tribe to open a casino in North Carolina. Senator Tom Apodaca (R–Henderson) told the News & Observer, “We don’t need an out-of-state tribe coming into North Carolina and opening a casino.” House Speaker Pro Tempore Paul Stam (R–Wake) stated that he is “very much opposed to it and will do everything [he] can to defeat it.”

Although several years ago the North Carolina General Assembly gave the governor the authority to negotiate and enter into Tribal-State gambling compacts with federally-recognized Indian Tribes on behalf of the state, Sen. Apodaca indicated that legislators might consider taking back some of that authority to prevent the Catawba casino from becoming a reality.

In April 2013, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians confirmed plans to build a second casino in North Carolina. The announcement of the $110 million project to build a 50,000 to 60,000-square-foot casino and 300-room hotel with up to 1,200 slot machines and 40-50 table games came less than a year after legislators amended the State’s gambling laws to coincide with Governor Beverly Perdue’s decision to sign the Amended and Restated Compact (Compact) in 2011. The Compact and the change in the law allow the Cherokee to offer Class III gaming activities, including craps, roulette, blackjack, and poker with live dealers.

Related resources:
Cherokee Plan Second Casino - April 16, 2013
Las Vegas Gambling Begins in NC - August 21, 2012
Feds Approve New Cherokee Gambling - August 7, 2012
Gambling with the Constitution - FNC - Summer 2012
Gambling Compact Signed Into Law - June 7, 2012
House Votes To Expand Cherokee Gambling - June 6, 1012
House Tentatively Approves Gambling Expansion - June 1, 2012
Gambling Resources -
Gambling Bill Constitutionally Flawed - May 25, 2012
Senate Expands Cherokee Gambling - May 17, 2012
Legislators Return To Raleigh - May 15, 2012
Playing To Lose - FNC - Spring 2012
Gambling With Families - FNC Commentary - Winter 2012
Cherokee Gambling Proposal Signed - November 29, 2011
Bringing Las Vegas to North Carolina - FNC - Fall 2011
Cherokee Want Own ABC System - May 4, 2011
Cherokee Casino Wants Expanded Alcohol Sales - November 24, 2009
Cherokee Political Contributions Unreported - October 29, 2007
Cherokee Casino Sees Significant Growth - January 31, 2007
Senator Dole Introduces Lumbee Recognition Act - January 19, 2007
Lumbee Bill Introduced in Congress - January 10, 2007
Lumbee Bill to Get Senate Hearing - July 10, 2006
Cherokee Gambling Negotiations End - April 21, 2006
Governor Considers Expanding Cherokee Casino Gambling Options - December 8, 2005

Copyright © 2013. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.

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