A proposed casino for the Kings Mountain, NC area has been quite a controversial subject in western North Carolina AND in the halls of power in Raleigh:
The Catawba Indian Nation (the “Catawba,” or the “Tribe”) is a Native American tribe based in York County, South Carolina. The Tribe’s only tribal reservation is located in Rock Hill, its tribal lands are all located within the State of South Carolina, and the overwhelming majority of its 2,800 members reside in South Carolina. The Catawba has no land in North Carolina, and it is not one of the tribes formally recognized by this State. With no immediate connections to the Old North State, a lot of people were shocked to learn late last summer that the Tribe was aggressively pursuing plans to build a massive casino in North Carolina just across the state line in Kings Mountain. When the Catawba finally went public with details of the project, the Tribe revealed plans for the development of a 16-acre site right off I-85 (about 30 miles west of Charlotte and about 30 miles northwest of the South Carolina reservation) that would include a $339 million, 220,000 square foot gambling facility and 1,500 room hotel.
Since the casino plans became public, many North Carolinians have been scratching their heads wondering whether it is legally possible for the Catawba to go “off the reservation” and build an enormous gambling resort on land that is not only located outside its reservation, but that is situated in an entirely different state from its own. Determining the answer requires an analysis of the Tribe’s 1993 land settlement agreement with the federal government and the State of South Carolina and its application to put the Kings Mountain property into trust with the United States Secretary of Interior for the purposes of gambling. Once thoroughly analyzed, the facts and the law make clear that the Catawba Tribe does not have the legal right or authority to operate a casino in North Carolina, and that the Tribe’s plans to (literally) build a casino off the reservation are (figuratively) “off the reservation.”
[…] Given its total lack of success in South Carolina and the apparent commercial success of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Harrah’s Casino in western North Carolina, it probably should not surprise anyone that the Catawba would look towards North Carolina in hopes of establishing a significant gambling operation. Still, when the news became public on August 15, 2013 that the Tribe was taking steps to put a casino in Kings Mountain, the public was caught entirely off guard. Leading policy leaders, including N.C. Governor Pat McCrory (R), N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin (D), leaders in the N.C. Senate, and over 100 members of the N.C. House of Representatives, quickly moved to state their opposition to the idea of the South Carolina-based Catawba establishing a casino in the Tar Heel State.[…]
The people of Kings Mountain also sounded off on the casino deal in November. Rick Moore, a Kings Mountain city councilman and father of House speaker Tim Moore, was on the ballot for reelection. Moore was a passionate defender of the casino deal. His opponent was staunchly opposed to the deal. Moore lost the race 62 percent to 38 percent.
Sources are telling us that US Senator (and presidential candidate) Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is working hard to stick language in the Omnibus Appropriations bill, currently being moved across Capitol Hill, that would grease the skids for the Kings Mountain casino deal so it moves to a closure quickly.
Now WHY would a South Carolina senator be promoting a North Carolina project? From my time on Capitol Hill, I can recall a practice — which I am sure is often in play on Jones Street — of recruiting a colleague to introduce something YOU don’t want your fingerprints on. Thom The Therrible and Graham are good buddies. (Graham-nesty campaigned for ol’ Thom in 2014.) And Tillis and Speaker Tim Moore were close allies while they both served in the House.
How does the speaker of the state House tie into all of this? :
[…] But state Representative Tim Moore, who has recused himself from the discussion about Catawba in the legislature because he works for the Catawba casino developer, says a legal analysis shows no tribe other than the Catawba Nation could establish a casino in North Carolina. “There’s a lot of political hyperbole out there, but it’s clear when you look at federal law that there are only two tribes that can have a casino in North Carolina – Eastern Band of Cherokees and the Catawba. The Eastern Band of Cherokees have done a top job for western North Carolina and the Catawba tribe hold that same promise for [Cleveland County] region of North Carolina,” Moore said.[…]
And let’s not forget THIS:
[…] In the last few years, Moore’s legal work has intersected with government business. He works for an investor in a casino the South Carolina-based Catawba Nation wants to build in Cleveland County. Most House members opposed the project, which could expand Las Vegas-style games.
Moore disagreed with his colleagues, and wanted the state to enter into a compact with the tribe to share the gambling profits.
But he said last year that he had told his House colleagues of his conflict and withdrawn from any legislative discussion on the issue.
He said Saturday that he’s handling local real estate issues connected to the project and doesn’t think that will have any connection to state action. […]
Wow. Talk about having your bases covered. Your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed. He’s representing the casino developer AND working on some real estate deals related to the casino. He is the county attorney, so he can quickly and quietly tamp down any issues that may arise at the county level. As speaker of the House, and one of the most powerful state officials, he is in position to stamp out any state issues that may arise. And his friends Thom and Lindsey can help out with any problems from DC.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The ULTIMATE crony capitalism deal.