A Congressional subcommittee recently held a hearing on H.R. 8255, a bill to legalize a Department of Interior decision to allow South Carolina’s Catawba Indian Nation to encroach into the Kings Mountain area near I-85 to build a casino.
It’s a bad deal for Western North Carolina and risky one for our entire state. It would cost Western North Carolinians jobs. And it would legitimize the shady business dealings of a major out-of-state Trump donor looking to use this project to fatten his own wallet.
It’s clear the Department of Interior got it wrong in its March 2020 decision. If its decision was legal, Congress wouldn’t need to pass legislation to give it a retroactive OK.
One of the primary goals of the federal law that governs Indian gaming — the Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act — is to keep it free of “organized crime” and “corrupting influences;” to ensure that the tribe is the primary benefactor of gaming operations.
This Kings Mountain project is rife with “corrupting influences.”
This proposed casino opens the door to an out-of-state developer with a troublesome past. He was indicted in Ohio for illegal gambling, money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States. He violated laws in South Carolina where he was operating illegal sweepstakes games. In Alabama, authorities seized his illegal slot machines.
The gaming industry is highly regulated, and this developer has time and again proven he is unable to obey the law. Worse yet, there is no public information available about the other financial backers of this deal. Blindly handing over North Carolina property to an indicted developer and a group of anonymous financiers is a bad bet.
The only reason this is happening is because the Catawba could not get approval for a casino from its home state of South Carolina. In fact, South Carolina’s Supreme Court rejected it. If the deal was so shaky that the South Carolina court denied it, why then, should North Carolina green light the same deal? Why should we be a safe haven for a shady businessman who is already showing bad faith by rushing to clear land for the casino before lawmakers can even vote?
North Carolina, through its partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, has a laudatory gaming industry that supports our economy and serves our communities well. I stand with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Western North Carolina.