By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
March 26, 2014
KINGS MOUNTAIN — Opponents of the Catawba Indian nation’s attempts to locate a casino in Cleveland County say they have no doubt such a venture would have a huge economic impact on their community — but they don’t believe it would be the kind of impact city and county officials are seeking.
“This casino will remove about $40 million per year from the local economy, with $10 to $15 million of that coming from Cleveland County,” said Adam Forcade, who formed the Kings Mountain Awareness Group to spread the truth about the detrimental effects a casino could bring to the community and to ask elected officials to rethink their support of the South Carolina-based tribe’s efforts to get the Bureau of Indian Affairs to pave the way for a gambling complex.
“We do not dispute that a casino will make a huge amount of money; in fact a 2006 raid in Cleveland County on a store with four illegal video poker machines seized $376,000, but where does it come from?” Forcade asked the Kings Mountain City Council Tuesday night.
“We doubt that there were large numbers of tourists coming here then to gamble illegally, so it is evident that the money comes from the local economy, and, for economic purposes, is money that is no longer spent locally.”
He said everything else aside, this one impact could best be described as an “economic Armageddon” from which the community would not recover.
“The letter that the council signed and sent to the developer stated that you are ‘proud to be in the Catawba Nation’s federal service area,'” he reminded city officials. “Our group would like to know if you are also proud to be in the tribal casino’s economic destruction zone?”
Forcade further noted that a casino will add no new wealth to the area and that citizens will have no more discretionary income after a casino that they do now.
“A casino does not change the amount of money left over after a person pays their bills each week,” he said. “It is well documented that a casino makes around 80 percent of its income from within a 50-mile feeder circle. No casino outside Las Vegas or Atlantic City relies on ‘destination’ or ‘tourist’ dollars to stay open.”
The Catawba Indian Nation, based in York County, S.C., is pushing 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 have announced opposition to the plan.
Forcade said although City Council members have not responded to his group’s request for them to further investigate the fallout a casino would bring rather than simply embracing the slick marketing message of the gambling industry, he has no doubt that they are becoming more aware of growing opposition, with some 16 people in Tuesday’s crowd donning Kings Mountain Awareness Group stickers.
The grassroots organization and its Stop Catawba Casino message are gaining momentum with its Facebook site garnering more than 500 followers. The Kings Mountain Herald has featured the group’s efforts on its front page two weeks in a row.
Tuesday marked Forcade’s second appearance before the City Council. He brought a similar message to Cleveland County Commissioners on March 18, admitting that, “especially in tough economic times, the prospect of any big project is hard to resist,” but challenging them to schedule a time to hear about potential casino impacts from the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
A group of some two dozen or so area business owners concerned about economic impact have agreed to hear from the NCFPC on Friday, April 4, at 9 a.m.
Also, Forcade said he hopes to plan another community awareness event soon that would be a follow-up to the group’s initial informational meeting that was held Feb. 21. Meanwhile, anyone seeking details about the anticipated impact of the casino or about how to join the opposition group should check out the Web site at www.stopcatawbacasino.com or the Kings Mountain Awareness Group’s Facebook page.