Contact your lawmakers and ask them not to authorize or approve any expansion of Las Vegas style games at Harrah’s Casino
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — It appears the Governor’s Office and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will bring their cards to the table this coming week as Tar Heel lawmakers assemble for a three-day session that could open the door for Las Vegas-style gambling at Harrah’s Casino. But the deal isn’t done yet, and media reports show there is still disagreement about the proposed expansion.
“We have opposed this from the get-go and will continue to remind legislators of the incredible toll that gambling takes on our communities,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Casinos are the most predatory business in the country, making 90 percent of their profits off of 10 percent of their customers who are addicts, and continuing to foster greater addiction with each additional game.”
Opened in 1997 under a 1994 compact negotiated by then-Gov. Jim Hunt, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is in the midst of a $650 million expansion project, and the tribe has been pushing the state to allow a host of new games featuring live poker and blackjack dealers. Projecting that the new games could create some 400 more jobs at the casino and hotel, the Cherokees are also asking the state to name their tribe the only gaming operator west of those counties along Interstate 95. The Associated Press reported earlier this month that in exchange the Cherokees have offered the state 8.5 percent of gross revenues from the new games at Harrah’s and from similar games at any new casinos that the tribe might open on its Western N.C. lands.
Although the state doesn’t currently receive any proceeds from gambling revenues, (roughly $378 million between October 2009 and September 2010), the Governor’s legal staff had asserted last summer that a portion of all gaming revenues, not just those from table games, should flow into state coffers. An earlier draft of the proposed compact would earmark funds for an education initiative, although those close to the bargaining say the state would prefer its portion of profits to go into the general fund without any special designation.
Despite the promises of jobs and revenues and tentative nods from Gov. Bev Perdue, who is in position to negotiate the contract, and Senate leader Phil Berger, the Associated Press reported that the Legislature’s social conservatives would likely oppose expanded gaming of any kind.
“This is our hope, that lawmakers stand strong to defend families who would be very negatively affected by these Las Vegas style games,” said Dr. Creech. “Gamblers Anonymous is already seeing the effects of the casino. Live dealers will draw an even riskier clientele and increase the number of problem gamblers in North Carolina as well as attract more of the same from other states.”
“Families touched by problem gambling are at greater risk for a range of negative outcomes from divorce, bankruptcy and child abuse to domestic violence, crime and suicide,” he added. “Why would our lawmakers want to have a role in promoting such heartbreak?”
Dr. Creech urged Christians across the state to take a few moments this weekend, as lawmakers are expected to begin arriving in Raleigh late Sunday, to phone or e-mail them to ask that they oppose any expansion of gambling in North Carolina.
“Now is the time for them to hear from us,” he said. “Gambling is a something-for-nothing scheme that milks existing wealth instead of creating new wealth; provides some jobs but jobs without justice; and produces an illusion that communities or the state may alleviate economic hardships without getting back to the basics of improving productivity, saving more, reducing debt and strengthening the family.
“Hitching our wagon to Harrah’s star is not the right move for North Carolina,” he added. “Please contact your lawmaker today to make a difference.”
Take Christian Action:
Please contact your lawmaker in both the NC House and Senate and ask him/her not to authorize or approve any expansion of Class III, Las Vegas style gaming at the Harrah’s Casino on the Cherokee reservation.
To write an email that will go directly to your lawmaker click here for the Christian Action League’s Grassroots Action Center.
After you have sent your email, take note on the Christian Action League’s Grassroots Action Center as to who represents you in the NC House and Senate, then go to the North Carolina General Assembly’s web site at the following links and get the phone number of your lawmaker and give him or her a phone call about this matter. If you don’t get to speak with one or both of them, leave a voicemail or a message with his/her legislative assistant.
Senate click here
House click here