In September 2013 the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation and gambling developer, Blue Sky Gaming, based in Greenville, SC, announced a proposal to build a 220,000 square foot casino complex off of Interstate 85 along the North Carolina/South Carolina border adjacent to Kings Mountain.
The Catawba Indian Nation filed an application with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs last August 2013 requesting the Bureau to take a 16-plus acre parcel of land into trust on the Tribe's behalf. This is the first step toward securing property for a casino. The Bureau could take months or even years to come to a decision, and there is no guarantee that the government will comply with the Catawba Nation's request.
The project has faced a backlash from a bipartisan group of elected officials who say they don’t want the casino in North Carolina. One hundred and two of the 120 North Carolina House members signed a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell dated Wednesday, September 4, 2013, expressing their opposition to the proposed land being taken into trust for gambling purposes.
The North Carolina Family Policy Council and others believe that the "Settlement Agreement" entered into by the Tribe, the United States Congress and the State of South Carolina in 1993, actually prohibits the Catawba Nation from establishing a gambling casino outside of the borders of the State of South Carolina.
Kings Mountain Awareness Group founder, Adam Forcade, began researching the potential impact of the proposed casino in January 2014. He learned that local citizens were either unaware of the proposal or thought that it was a done deal. Forcade didn't see evidence of the economic boom that was being loudly promoted. To the contrary, he found numerous studies, including Congressional testimony, that documents the negative impacts of casino gambling. “The potential negative impacts are staggering”, says Forcade.
Forcade learned that the City Council of Kings Mountain, Mayor Rick Murphrey, Cleveland County Board of Commissioners, and the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce had written letters of support on behalf of the citizens. These letters were included in the application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. “The local citizens were neither informed of, nor asked if they support a casino development”, says Forcade.
Forcade formed the Kings Mountain Awareness Group (KMAG) in an effort to heighten community awareness. KMAG is dedicated to researching and sharing real data on the impacts of a casino in Kings Mountain and the group encourages citizens to be an educated voice.