From an editorial Tuesday in the (Greensboro) News & Record:
The Catawba Indian Nation’s interest in opening a casino in North Carolina might be meant to gain political support for a gambling resort in South Carolina.
Gov. Pat McCrory shouldn’t play along.
The governor’s office reportedly is considering an agreement with the Catawbas, whose reservation is in York County, S.C., that would allow the tribe to operate a casino near Interstate 85 on the North Carolina side of the state line. McCrory would face strong opposition among legislators of his own party, and from North Carolina Native Americans, if he made such a deal.
The Catawba nation, 3,000 members strong, has gotten nowhere with a bid to build a casino on its own land in South Carolina. Gov. Nikki Haley has firmly said no. Would she change her mind if she suddenly faced the prospect of South Carolina residents crossing into North Carolina to spend money at a Catawba casino there? Tribal leaders might be betting on it.
The Catawbas’ interest in gambling is obvious: It generates money. Leaders say their members need the jobs and income. They promise a sizable cut for the state – either state.
South Carolina’s gambling policies are its own business. But our state has no business granting a casino compact to an out-of-state Indian tribe, especially when it has its own state-recognized tribes.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians already operates a large casino resort in the western North Carolina mountains – and it does not welcome competitors.
The Lumbee Tribe also enjoys state recognition but not the federal endorsement required to operate a casino. If North Carolina ever approves a second Indian casino, the Lumbee Tribe would be the obvious operator – not the Catawba nation.
Not that there’s much of a push for another casino in North Carolina. Yes, local leaders in Cleveland County say they’d be happy to host a Catawba gambling facility for its economic development potential. But there’s wider opposition. Some Republican leaders, who object on principle to gambling, threaten to block approval by the governor. Western North Carolina lawmakers will want to protect the Cherokees’ interests, realizing that visitors spend money throughout their region.
The tribe, which currently doesn’t even own land in North Carolina, should continue its discussions with South Carolina, where it does own property in York County and where most of its members live. They could use the jobs there.
More than likely, that’s the plan anyway.
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