NC governor considers tribal casino with SC tribe

Aug. 16, 2013 @ 11:40 AM

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 says 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 about the possibility because the project is still under discussion.

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.