SANTEE — The owner of the nearly-vacant Santee Outlet Mall is suggesting again the Catawba Indian Nation bring a high-stakes bingo operation to the small town of Santee on Interstate 95.

The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg reports that owner Herman Lischkoff is looking for a new use for the 150,000-square foot mall that now has only one store.

Lady apparel retailer Bon Worth closed its outlet Saturday, leaving an antiques shop as the only tenant in the mall that now has 48 vacancies.

Lischkoff is optimistic the tribe will select the site after it recently received state permission to operate a high-stakes bingo operation in York County, where it operated one previously.

Under a 1993 land settlement with the state of South Carolina, the Catawbas, the state’s only federally recognized tribe, are entitled to open a second bingo hall somewhere else in the state.

Lischkoff wrote the tribe this month asking if they are interested in leasing or buying the site off Interstate 95. Tribal spokeswoman Elizabeth Harris says the tribe is now focused on opening the York County site.

“If we are ready to pursue a second location, which we are allowed to do, we will contact him,” she said.

Lischkoff hopes to hear from the tribe about a bingo operation. “It would bring jobs into the location,” Lischkoff said.

But there is opposition.

“I think it would be a detriment to the community,” said Richard Porter, director of missions for the Orangeburg-Calhoun Baptist Association. He said Southern Baptists and some other church groups across the state have consistently opposed gambling.

“A lot of people who don’t have a lot of money to spend will hope to get rich quick and to make that big score,” he said.

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Information from: The Times & Democrat, http://www.timesanddemocrat.com