Group Opposes North Carolina Casino

Opponents of a proposed Catawba Nation casino near Kings Mountain (l.) say economic promises from the tribe are inflated, and a local gaming hall will cannibalize local business. But the mayor and many residents want the project to move forward. It could create 3,000-plus jobs.

Interior Department must first put land in trust

A group of North Carolina residents has formed a group to fight a proposed tribal casino near Kings Mountain. The Kings Mountain Community Awareness Group held its first community meeting in February and is sponsoring another this month, reported the Charlotte Observer.

Last September, the Catawba Indians revealed plans for a $339 million casino they say would bring 4,000 jobs to a site near their reservation in Rock Hill. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs must first decide whether to place the land in trust. But the opponents already have made up their minds. They are concerned that a casino in the region would attract crime, hurt local business, and exacerbate gambling addictions.

“There’s no question in anybody’s mind the casino will generate an incredible amount of revenue,” said Adam Forcade, chairman of the group. “But where does the money come from? Eighty percent comes from the local economy. That will be removed.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina’s Cherokee Indians are building a second gaming hall, despite flat revenues. A March report from Casino City’s Indian Gaming Industry said Indian casino revenue growth in 2012 slowed to 2 percent, down from 3.4 percent in the previous year, and way below the explosive growth experienced in past decades. In 1989, for example, revenue grew by 189 percent in one year.

“There’s only so much gambling that can be done, only so much disposable income,” Alan Meister, author of the report, told the Associated Press. “You’re adding more and more gambling competing for the same dollars.”

Forcade said the Kings Mountain community should not expect an “economic boom.”

“This will have a gigantic impact on the community,” he said, “but it gives a false economic hope.”

The group hopes to persuade the Kings Mountain City Council and Cleveland County Board of Commissioners to rescind their letters of support that were sent to the project’s developers.

But Kings Mountain Mayor Rick Murphrey supports the casino. “We look at it from the standpoint of jobs and revenue,” he told the Observer. If a project promises to create thousands of jobs, “We can’t turn that down.”

Cleveland County Commissioner Johnny Hutchins of Kings Mountain said the casino project “has got an upside and a downside and you’ve got to weigh each one. But I’ve talked to people and the majority in the county are for it.”