By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
October 11, 2013
CHEROKEE — The decision of the N.C. Republican Party to hold its 2014 State Convention at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel is drawing criticism from both social conservatives and even some gambling enthusiasts.
Rep. Skip Stam (R-Wake), who has long spoken out against gambling, told the media he wasn’t pleased with the chosen site along the state’s remote western edge and expects it will lead to decreased attendance.
It has also been noted that Republican lawmakers were far from unified last year when debating the Cherokee facility’s expansion to include full-fledged Las Vegas-style games. In fact the vote among GOP House members was 38 in favor – 28 against the expansion while Senate Republicans approved the bill just 18 – 10.
More recently, those pushing for the establishment of a new casino in Cleveland County, proposed by the South Carolina-based Catawba Nation, are incensed that Republican lawmakers who have spoken out against the idea of a Catawba facility apparently have no problem taking their business to the Eastern Band of Cherokees.
In a Shelby Star article published earlier this month, David Dear of the Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership questioned how the GOP can call Harrah’s “a model for economic development by providing over 5,000 jobs….” and then not endorse Catawba efforts to open a similar casino near I-85.
“We’re a little disillusioned as to why they think we can’t duplicate that in Cleveland County,” he said of Harrah’s apparent success.
GOP leaders justified their selection of Harrah’s for the location of the June 6 – 8, 2014 event saying that the casino is separated from the hotel by a skywalk and that those at the convention will not have to see gambling unless they want to see or participate in it. They also said that Harrah’s was one of the few facilities in the state adequate to handle such a large event.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, lamented: “It’s painful for Republicans like myself, to see our state’s party lowering its posture against gambling the way we’ve seen it do in recent years. Casinos are the most predatory form of business in the country and their windfall of profit ultimately comes at the expense of us all. Not all Republicans, I’m sure, support this decision. However, for the party to do business with the purveyors of this insidious industry is to give their blessing and associate themselves with an economic development strategy that exemplifies the wrong direction – the belief that we can get something for nothing – that we can prey upon our neighbor’s vulnerabilities and still be a good people and achieve a lasting prosperity. It’s a lie straight out of the pit of hell.”
Recent Republican state conventions have been held in Greensboro and Charlotte.