S. Carolina tribe gives casino plan to N. Carolina governor

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has received a proposal from a South Carolina-based Native American tribe on how it would like to operate a casino in Cleveland County.

Cooper spokesperson Ford Porter confirmed Friday by email that the governor’s office had received the draft from the Catawba Indian Nation, which has plans for a casino and resort on land in Kings Mountain.

Porter didn’t address additional questions asked Friday about the proposal, the existence of which was first reported by WRAL-TV in Raleigh.

Porter told the station that the proposal wasn’t a public record, citing a state law exempting documents dealing with legal proceedings.

Any proposal, if hammered out, would ultimately turn into a gambling compact that lays out what games would be offered and what revenues the state would receive. A governor is usually tasked with working out such agreements.

Porter said a final compact will be made public and need approval from an agency within the U.S. Department of Interior, which also traditionally seeks public input.

The department gave permission in March for the Catawbas to use acreage near Interstate 85 for the casino, declaring that the tribe had a nexus to North Carolina with members and tribal services.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which is based in far western North Carolina and operates two casinos there, already has sued in federal court to challenge the department’s decision. The Eastern Band says the land is Cherokee historic territory.

A Catawba tribal spokesperson didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment late Friday.

The land for the proposed casino is 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of the Catawba reservation in upstate South Carolina.

An economic development evaluation of the project cited in the Interior Department’s decision found the $273 million investment in the entertainment complex could generate more than 1,600 construction jobs and create more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs once built.

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