By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
February 26, 2014
KINGS MOUNTAIN — “A giant vacuum cleaner designed to suck up every bit of disposable income from a 200-mile radius and transfer it into the bank accounts of out-of-state owners” — that’s how opposition organizer Adam Forcade described the casino that the Catawba Indians want to locate in Cleveland County.
Forcade and his wife, Cynthia, formed the King’s Mountain Awareness Group and sponsored an informational meeting Feb. 21 featuring the Christian Action League’s Rev. Mark Creech and John Rustin of the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
Held at East Gold Street Wesleyan Church, where the Rev. Scott Whitney led a question and answer session, the event included a look at the Catawbas’ lack of legal standing to pursue a casino in North Carolina and the anticipated social and economic harms such a facility would bring, a discussion of gambling from a Biblical standpoint and a challenge to local residents to get “loud and visible” by contacting their elected officials.
Rustin told the crowd that casinos depend on problem gamblers for most of their profits and that the rate of problem gambling can triple or quadruple when a casino comes to town. Citing “Why Casinos Matter,” published last September by the Institute for American Values’ Council on Casinos, he said regional casinos cannibalize the local economy, competing with hotels, restaurants and retail stores and driving down property values in the host community.
Rustin said when a casino drives up gambling addiction in an area, crime follows. A survey of nearly 400 members of Gamblers Anonymous found that 57 percent stole money or committed crimes to fund their addiction or pay off gambling debts, he explained. Rustin said that, according to “Why Casinos Matter,” social costs associated with a new casino have been estimated at $2,486 to $2,945 per problem gambler.
Beyond the crime and social costs, Dr. Creech told the crowd that “the very nature of gambling works against the fundamental principles Christianity desires to inculcate in a culture.”
He said gambling violates two of the Ten Commandments — “Thou shalt not steal” and Thou shalt not covet,” and oppresses the poor and needy.
“While it masks itself as harmless entertainment, the odds are always stacked against the players, sucking away their dollars and sometimes even their lives,” he said.
Citing 1 Thess. 3:10 and other scriptures, Dr. Creech showed how gambling undermines stewardship and the work ethic and even fosters a lack of faith in God. He said gambling is “using what God has given to propagate an immoral, predatory and exploitive industry.”
“The concept of luck challenges the sovereignty of God,” he added. “… When luck comes into the picture, God can no longer be a part of the equation — God goes out.”
Forcade called on those at the meeting not to be taken in by promises of an economic boost from hundreds of casino jobs, but to make their opposition to the casino known among friends and elected officials.
“The casino development group has spent millions to convince Raleigh that we don’t exist,” he said of casino opponents. “We have to prove to the people making this decision that there are far more of us who don’t want the casino than the lobbying efforts have led them to believe.”
He said opposition should start at the local level since state lawmakers are sometimes reluctant to vote against the recommendations of their elected constituents.
The Christian Action League, the North Carolina Family Policy Council, and the Kings Mountain Awareness Group are planning additional meetings for Cleveland County and the surrounding region such as the one held on Friday night. “Our hope is to make sure the people of this region clearly understand the negatives of a casino. The people here are not getting the whole story from their leadership or the media and many perceive this matter to be a done deal, when it isn’t,” said Dr. Creech.
Forcade also addressed the Kings Mountain City Council Tuesday night to ask for a public meeting to allow residents to hear a report about the effects of casinos on other areas from the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
“As a representative of the Kings Mountain Awareness Group our position is that we do not feel that adequate research from alternate sources has been given a fair examination,” he told the Council. He added the NC Family Policy Council presentation would bring these potential impacts to light in a fair and non-biased manner. “We fully trust that your desire to completely examine all impacts to the community, both positive and negative, will induce you as a council to grant this request. We also trust that should the overwhelming evidence point to a negative outcome the council would retract their letter of support to the casino developers,” said Forcade.
Forcade said the Council offered no response to his comments.
“I could just as well have been speaking to the stone statues at Easter Island,” he said after the meeting. “I don’t think there was so much as a blink while I spoke, and when I finished they wouldn’t say a word nor look at me.”
The Catawba Indian Nation, based in York County, S.C., has petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take into trust 16 acres off Dixon School Road near I-85 for a complex to include a 220,000-square-foot casino and 1,500 hotel rooms. Gov. Pat McCrory as well as many lawmakers in the N.C. House and Senate has announced opposition to the plan.
See Related North Carolina Family Policy council story: Local Opposition to Indian Casino Grows