Don’t bet on a Catawba casino
Business thrives by competition and the willingness of investors to take a chance. And having failed to get South Carolina’s approval for an expanded gambling operation in their home state, the Catawba Indian tribe of York Couty is making a pitch to North Carolina for a major casino off I-85.
There’s not be much that South Carolina can do about it, except to recommend its rejection by the North Carolina General Assembly — and soon. The Catawbas already have successfully enlisted the support of Cleveland County officials, who are now in discussion with a “senior economic adviser” to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, according to The Associated Press.
And apparently the governor can help make it happen, barring pre-emptive legislative action. The social costs of casino gambling should at least encourage a thorough debate in North Carolina. A casino is not exactly a typical economic development project.
Sure, there’s money to be made. But there’s more to be lost by the wagering public. The consequences typically include gambling addiction, bankruptcy and crime, including prostitution and the drug trade. That’s why South Carolina has passed on casino gambling, including by the Catawbas.
When South Carolina settled its differences with the Catawba tribe in 1993 over land claimed in York County, the tribe got the go-ahead for a bingo parlor as part of the agreement — but no gambling casino. Since then, tribal leaders have attempted to expand gambling operations in South Carolina without success.
Having a casino just north of the state line would be a lot like having one in York County — as far as the negatives go.
Of course, South Carolina benefitted mightily from North Carolina gamblers playing our “Education Lottery” before the Tar Heel State got one of its own. So in one sense, turnabout would be fair play.
But N.C. Republican legislative leaders apparently oppose the project. Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Hendersonville, said a majority of the Republican caucus won’t endorse it.
“We don’t need an out-of-state tribe coming into North Carolina and opening a casino,” Sen. Apodaca said. While the Catawbas have federal recognition, they aren’t recognized as a tribe by North Carolina.
There is talk about legislative action to revoke the governor’s power to enter a gambling agreement without lawmakers’ approval.
The North Carolina Legislature took a right turn at a particularly inauspicious time for a project such as the casino that the Catawbas are promoting.
Talk about a run of bad luck.