By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
January 7, 2022
The younger generations might not know the name, Walter Cronkite. He was a broadcasts news journalist who served as the anchor for the CBS Evening News for nearly two decades. He was considered one of the most trusted men in America.
In a special program, The Dice Are Loaded, Cronkite said that the collapse of moral resistance against gambling was among the worst things that could happen to the country. Cronkite argued that he believed it would be the destruction of “who we are as Americans.”
Monday, December 27, the advancement of gambling interests hit a new high, or better said, a new low, when President Joe Biden signed the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act. The legislation, which initially was a stand-alone measure, was wrapped into a much larger piece of legislation for defense spending in 2022.
The new federal law codifies a machination by the South Carolina-based Catawba Indians to purchase lands in North Carolina for an off-reservation tribal Casino. The U.S. Department of the Interior secured land as a trust in Cleveland County last year. Since July, the tribe has operated a temporary casino with 500 video poker-type machines. Since then, the casino has been so successful that its expanded its operation to as many as 1,000 machines.
The action to secure lands on behalf of the Catawba Indians instigated litigation by the Cherokee Nation in North Carolina. The Cherokees, which operate two Casinos on the Cherokee reservation, argued the land in Cleveland County belonged to them, and they wanted it back.
“This flawed decision is a plain example of ‘reservation shopping,’ the practice of casino developers pairing a willing Indian tribe with a city or county open to a casino and seeking to have the federal government create a new reservation outside the willing tribe’s aboriginal territory,” says the website of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. “Both Congress and Indian Country have repeatedly denounced the practice of reservation shopping and have repeatedly engaged the Department of Interior to press for changes in the Department’s rules to limit these kinds of deals.”
The passage, however, of The Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act, as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, nullifies the Cherokees’ litigation.
John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, said that Congress’s approval of the measure “sets an incredibly dangerous precedent for tribal gaming across the U.S.”
Gambling constantly threatens to swallow up the Tar Heel state. Its proponents relentlessly push North Carolina lawmakers to loosen its resistance to the industry.
The first casino in Cherokee opened in November of 1997, primarily forced upon the state by the federal courts.
Then in 2005, North Carolina enacted a state-operated lottery.
In 2011, Governor Beverly Perdue amended the compact with the Cherokee to allow for Class III gaming (Las Vegas style) and add two more casinos.
All the while, the state has been back and forth with Video Poker and Sweepstakes gambling, eventually deciding to ban both. Nevertheless, legislation in the General Assembly has been put forward to repeal the ban on sweepstakes and regulate it. Plus, this year’s proposal, which remains eligible for consideration, would legalize sports gambling.
The push is unyielding. Now North Carolina must surrender to the federal government’s coercion for an additional casino to be operated in Cleveland County by a tribe from South Carolina.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the advancement of gambling seriously undermines the moral strength of North Carolina and the nation. He said:
“Good business works on the fundamental principle of fair exchange, value for value. Gaming only draws money away from the regular channels of trade which are vital to the strength of a sound economy. It’s parasitic. Moreover, it undermines what is essential to a stable economy for our state and nation: a strong work ethic and the production of tangible goods and services.
“I find it ironic businesses are now struggling to find workers because too many are willing to stay at home and draw a government check rather than work. Yet the media, at the same time, reports that North Carolina has had record sales for the state lottery. I suggest that’s not just because of the pandemic, but because gambling has helped contribute to our something for nothing mentality as a culture. So, while people’s eyes may bulge with dollar signs at the thought of another casino in the state, let me warn you, what’s happening is slowly sawing off the limb on which we sit.”
All of the North Carolina Congressional delegation except Rep. Dan Bishop voted for the defense spending bill, including the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act.
The passage of the legislation is exceedingly unfortunate. Gambling is progressive; it metastasizes until the very culture loses what Walter Cronkite said was “who we are as good and decent Americans.”