Opposition for North Carolina off reservation casino continues to build

Opposition to a proposed casino development in North Carolina continues to grow, with it said that 38 of the 50 members of the state’s senate have added signatures to a letter to the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee expressing such a stance.

Legislation S 790 would authorise approximately 16 acres of land in Cleveland County, to be taken into federal trust for a new Catawba Indian Nation reservation, for the sole purpose of operating a casino.

Sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, the proposed site would encroach upon Cherokee aboriginal territory.

It is said that through moves undertaken S 790 attempts to bypass requirements in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, that states the Department of the Interior must engage in extensive consultations with local, state, and tribal governments for economic, environmental and infrastructure impact assessments.

Furthermore, it would also take away the right of the governor to concur with or oppose the Department of Interior’s recommendation regarding a new casino following the consultation phase, for the first time in history.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians owns two casinos in the Old North State, both of which are operated under Caesars Entertainment’s Harrah’s brand.

Richard Sneed, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, explained of the currently situation: “We appreciate the support from surrounding counties, and a super-majority of the North Carolina Senate who are concerned with this federal attempt to silence the voices of North Carolina stakeholders, including the Eastern Band.

“We have been proud to partner with North Carolina for decades. As it stands, this bill would create a harmful precedent, the first time Congress has expressly authorised an Indian tribe to acquire land into trust simply for owning and operating an off-reservation casino.

“We encourage the Catawba Indian Nation to go through the same proper process in their home state of South Carolina that we have worked through for decades as partners with our state of North Carolina.”

County governments in the Graham, Haywood, Swain, Jackson and Cherokee regions have also adopted resolutions against the bill, after a bipartisan group of North Carolina General Assembly members opposed an attempt by the Catawba Nation to acquire the same land for an off-reservation casino six years ago.

“The legislation skirts the formal input process that gives state and local governments in North Carolina, and their constituents who live near the proposed casino site, a voice in the process. I encourage the US Senate to reject this unprecedented overreach,” commented North Carolina Senator Jim Davis.

Ron Mau, Jackson County commissioner, added: “It is concerning both North Carolina US Senators have lent their names to a bill that would allow a tribe recognised by South Carolina, to construct a casino in North Carolina, to the detriment of their constituents.”