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Catawba Indians Casino Efforts In NC, Part 1

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
May 31, 2014 12:00 pm

Catawba Indians Casino Efforts In NC, Part 1

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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May 31, 2014 12:00 pm

In Part 1  of this two-part series, NC  Family president John Rustin talks  with attorney Chris Derrick, author of an article in the Spring 2014 issue of  Family North Carolina  magazine entitled, “Going Off the Reservation,” which explains why the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation has no legal authority to open a Las-Vegas style gambling casino in North Carolina.

Truth For a New Generation
Alex McFarland
Family Policy Matters
NC Family Policy

This is family policy matter program is produced by the North Carolina family policy Council of profamily research and education organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving the family, and often the studio hears John Rushton, president of the North Carolina family policy Council, thank you for joining us this week. Profamily policy matters. It is our pleasure to have Derek on the program with us this week. Chris is an attorney based in Asheville, North Carolina, who specializes in the areas of promotion and marketing of all corporate law and business transactions.

He finally served for two years as special counsel to Commissioner James Dobson on the 1999 National gambling Impact study commission, which was a government commission charged with studying the social and economic effects of legalize gambling on our nation. Chris also provides legal and legislative assistance to the North Carolina family policy Council on a variety of issues and we greatly appreciate all the wonderful work that Chris does. Chris is the author of an exclusive article featured in the spring 2014 issue of family North Carolina magazine now that article is entitled going off the reservation while the Catawba Indians have no legal authority to open a casino in North Carolina. We will be talking with Chris today about that article which provides an in-depth legal analysis of the Catawba Indian nation's attempts to establish a casino in North Carolina, and Chris explains in the article why the South Carolina based Indian tribe lacks the right and authority to do just that. Chris, thanks so much for being with us. John, thank you. It's good to be with you again well it's great to have you witness Chris and again we appreciate so much all the great work and insights that you provide to the family policy Council and by virtue of that to our supporters and our listeners out there.

Now Chris last summer.

Many more Carolinians were shocked to learn that the Catawba Indian nation, which is an Indian tribe based in South Carolina was seeking to open a Las Vegas style gambling casino here in North Carolina tell us about the Catawba Indians their history and their efforts to open a casino in our state will face John and propose it may not know the tall Indians are Native American tribe and as you say, they're based in South Carolina actually in York County, South Carolina, near Rock Hill and the tribe has about 2800 members. The overwhelming majority which reside in the state of South Carolina draw doesn't draw doesn't have any land in North Carolina and because it doesn't really have a connection to North Carolina. It is not even thinly recognized by the state of North Carolina. Under North Carolina law. So a lot of folks in North Carolina will really shocked as you say learn last summer when the word got out this South Carolina tribe was planning to build a casino across the state line in Kings Mountain, North Carolina right off of I 85 and other shocking thing to learn was the magnitude of this proposed casino on it was, is or is planned to occupy a 16 acre site in the eight $340 million, 220,000 square-foot gambling facility with a 1500 room hotel attached so you can't have to think of it I haven't checked out the figures Cherokee lately, but it's essentially as if we plop down the heroes Cherokee Casino right there about 30 miles outside of Charlotte.

Essentially, almost a suburb of Aurora largest city. It's a significant proposal, which is potentially disastrous for the stated reasons for that is that unlike the heroes Cherokee Casino which is in the form of the screeches of Western Carolina in a very raw and mountainous areas that you've really got to be intending to go there to get there. This proposed casino by the Catawba Indian nation would sit on a major interstate highway about 30 miles west of North Carolina's largest city right on the border with another state, and a highly populated and highly trafficked area which for anyone who has studied the social and economic impacts of gambling casinos were these regional casinos is just a recipe for disaster. Now Chris in the article you spent a good deal of time analyzing a 1993 settlement agreement between the Catawba Indian tribe, the US Congress and the state of South Carolina tell us briefly about the components that make up the settlement agreement and why it is so important to understand this in light of these efforts will start back up the way back. Actually if you look at the history of solid tribe DDC that going all the way back to pre-Revolutionary war times the tribesmen wrestling over land rights with South Carolina and in fact the tribe didn't actually settle its land claims will South Carolina war with the US government until 1993 one a comprehensive Catawba settlement plan was enacted into US and South Carolina law and that's a settlement agreement that you just referenced and it actually consists of three parts.

It's the settlement agreement itself between the state of South Carolina in the tribe, and in a federal law on a South Carolina law they codify and govern the terms of the settlement agreement but through the settlement, the Catawba settled and extinguished all past and future claims to land and natural resources located anywhere in the US and they did this in exchange for certain settlement funds and the transfer of their power to tribe six, 630 acre trial run reservation from the state of South Carolina to the US secretary of interior settlement also settled all the legal rights of the tribe as well as their rights and limitations with respect to expanding the tribal reservation in acquiring non-reservation property so as it turns out that this settlement is very very important because it it really is the key to unlocking the answer to whether the Catawba have the legal ability to go off the reservation and build a massive casino like the one they proposed a Kings Mountain and in its no wonder it's not only alter reservation but all the reservation in an entirely separate state from from where they reside.

Chris do a couple key sections in the settlement agreement that have to do with the rights and privileges of the tribe to purchase land and you've you mentioned that already and also to conduct gambling activities. Tell us about these and, specifically, what they say or the rights and privileges of the tribe to purchase land and to engage in gambling activities and why those provisions are relevant to the Catawba's efforts in North Carolina will your writing.

In addition to settling all rights of the tribe with respect to land this settlement also sets out all the rights of the tribe with respect to gambling and operating games of chance and each of the three settlement agreements. I mentioned the federal all the state laws will settlement agreement itself provided the laws and regulations of the state of South Carolina govern, I'm quoting Mel govern the regulation and conduct of gambling or wagering by the tribe owning off the reservation.

The settlement documents also provided the Indian gaming regulatory act does not apply to the tribe and integrated is not an Indian gaming regulatory act is a federal law that provides statutory basis for the operation of casino gambling by Indian tribes on tribal lands throughout the United States and is the statutory means it was used by the Cherokees to secure their casino up in the western part of the state, but interesting enough belated settlement documents were structured, and in the terms of the arrangement instead of the travel gambling for the atoll of being governed by Integra the Catawba agreed that it's gambling activities would be governed solely by the terms of the settlement agreement and South Carolina law and not this federal law. Paragraph interestingly enough, if you look back at the legislative history relating to the Catawba settlement agreement, you learned that this South Carolina legislature clearly wanted to shut down any means. The Catawba to ever operate a Las Vegas style casino in South Carolina, which again is why they made it rain applicable to the tribe and said that the settlement agreement South Carolina control the tribes gambling activities talk about if you would Chris Catawba tribe's efforts to obtain gambling rights and privileges in the state of South Carolina and and as we know those efforts have hit a dead end, and it's probably the primary reason why they decided to look across the border for potential opportunities but tell us about their efforts in the Palmetto State and why they have failed. As I just mentioned that the South Carolina legislature appears. If you look back legislative history on the settlement document seems to have really focused on keeping them from operating a Las Vegas style casino and they they have succeeded because the tribe the Catawba tribe is made many attempts and South Carolina operated casino. There and they failed with each. Each juncture of the Catawba's latest such attempt failed. Just this last April and you you alluded to that and what happened. There is a Supreme Court of South Carolina issue them. An opinion holding that the South Carolina gambling cruise act does not provide a loophole through which the tribe could offer video gambling on its reservation in contravention of the an existing statewide ban on video gambling devices and and so that the court specifically said in that case that the Catawba had waived his rights to be governed under federal law under Integra and that it is instead agreed to be governed solely by the terms of the settlement agreement as it pertains to games of chance of what that meant is that the Catawba were subject to the South Carolina laws banning video gambling and other forms of gambling in South Carolina just the way any ordinary citizen would be would be prevented from operating or engaging in those gambling activities so what been made clear over the years since the settlement agreement when in the places that under South Carolina law. The bottom line is booked solid tribe cannot operate a Las Vegas style casino gambling cruise act tribal seeking to use as a mechanism to gain legal rights to gambling was really a situation where in South Carolina there is legislation that says that local governments have the ability to regulate the operation of these gambling cruise boats or cruises to know where is there called where the gambling boat motors offshore 3 miles out into international waters and conducts gambling activities and then returns to the state without making a quote intervening stopped in another state or jurisdiction, and so essentially that makes it fall under international laws and the tribe was saying because that type of activity is illegal that they should have the right to conduct video gambling within the state and as you mentioned, the South Carolina Supreme Court said no South Carolina law was still very clear that that form of gambling is illegal. Therefore, the tribe may not conduct that type of activity within the jurisdictional area of the state is that your interpretation of the that's exactly right in because it said that certain individuals are companies in South Carolina could go out and operate these cruises that somehow that opened the door fully under federal law or under law in general for the tribe which unique and different in some respects in an ordinary citizen. The drivers oriented that open the door for them because it allowed some gambling. Albert well because the dad created a loophole that they can operate under within the state run a Las Vegas style casino in the court, the South Carolina Supreme Court said noted that as you as you said on in the did it on the basis of the terms of the settlement agreement with the Catawba tribe would not allow that. In other words, because the federal law. A grid doesn't apply to the tribe that loophole simply doesn't exist so that the tribe respect to gambling activities is just as in the same position is any other ordinary citizen in South Carolina and and and you cannot operate a Las Vegas style casino and in this day. Unfortunately we are out of town for this week. Chris listeners who want to learn more about this issue. The copy of Chris's article off the reservation can be found in the spring 2014 issue of family North Carolina magazine, as well as on the North Carolina family policy Council's Chris Derek thank you so much for your hard work on this important article for sharing your great insights with us and for your work over the years with the North Carolina family policy. John them are appreciated. Since family policy matters. Information and analysis, future North Carolina family policy Council join us weekly for discussion on policy issues affecting the family. If you have questions or comments. 91 907-0800 or visit our website and see

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