More on the Catawbas’ casino quest

Recent news stories:

• The Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer report that Gov. Pat McCrory was very interested in the concept of the South Carolina-based Catawbas operating a casino north of the state line in Kings Mountain until suddenly he became quite publicly opposed to the idea. It’s unclear why he had the sudden change of heart.

The public comments flowed from an Aug. 16 internal McCrory administration memo telling officials to emphasize that “the governor’s office has not actively engaged this project” and “never had any direct contact with the Catawba tribe.”

But the newly released emails suggest the governor’s office played an active role in considering the project, briefing McCrory twice on the project and communicating regularly with two attorneys for tribal interests.

Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports that the Catawbas’ bid for off-reservation casino has precedent. A highlight:

The South Carolina-based Catawba Nation would not be the first Indian tribe to operate a casino in a state where it has no reservation if it is able to open an entertainment resort in Cleveland County.

Opponents of the plan, including Gov. Pat McCrory, state Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, are skeptical that the tribe can go off reservation to operate a casino legally, let alone claim gambling rights in another state. Similar objections have been raised by Attorney General Roy Cooper and Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, both Democrats.

But the tribe’s plan to build a $340 million, 220,000-square-foot gaming facility, two hotels, shopping, and entertainment venues, creating more than 4,000 permanent jobs in a high-unemployment area, has precedent.

After a lengthy court battle, the federal government approved a casino project in Kansas City, Kans., for the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma because of the tribe’s historical link to the area. The Seneca Nation of New York opened an in-state but off-reservation casino in a litigation-heavy case that has some similar elements to the Catawba project.

Michael Lowrey

Michael Lowrey is a contributor to Carolina Journal and a policy analyst for the John Locke Foundation. Lowrey has written numerous articles for the foundation on topics su...

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