North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is considering an agreement to allow a South Carolina-based Indian tribe to open a casino near the state line.
Cleveland County Commission Chairman Ronnie Hawkins said, in a story reported by The Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh, that officials in his county met last month with a senior economic adviser to the governor to talk about a potential casino operated by the Catawba Indian Nation.
Hawkins says the site along Interstate 85 south of Kings Mountain could include a casino, hotel and other retail businesses.
A spokesman for McCrory would not talk this week about the possibility because the project is still under discussion. Josh Ellis, an assistant secretary in McCrory’s Commerce Department, said Friday the casino idea is a Cleveland County project, not a state initiative.
State commerce officials have only been gathering information and “are nowhere near the point in time where we’ve taken a stance on this,” Ellis said in an interview.
A spokeswoman for the Catawbas denied the tribe is seeking to operate in North Carolina.
The project would require a gambling compact, which McCrory could authorize without lawmakers’ approval.
But some of McCrory’s fellow Republicans don’t like the idea.
Hendersonville Sen. Tom Apodaca, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said Senate leader Phil Berger and the majority Republican caucus would oppose the effort.
“We don’t need an out-of-state tribe coming into North Carolina and opening a casino,” Apodaca said Thursday.
Apodaca said state lawmakers could revoke the governor’s power to enter a gambling agreement without their approval.
House Speaker Pro Tem Skip Stam of Apex opposes gambling and said the proposed prominent location off a major interstate would generate “10 times as much gambling” as the destination resort operated by the Cherokees in the mountains of western North Carolina.
The Catawba Nation is a federally recognized tribe near Rock Hill, S.C., with about 2,800 members. It is not a recognized Native American tribe in North Carolina.
Contact us at [email protected].