By now, nearly everyone has heard of the Catawba Two Kings Casino and Resort planned for development in King’s Mountain, NC. There has been a great deal of celebration and worry surrounding the project in the news. There’s worry on one hand that the casino may never come to pass on account of the lawsuit initiated by The Eastern Band of The Cherokee, and due to NC Governor Roy Cooper keeping silent on the issue of Class III gambling. On the other hand, there is worry about what will happen if they do build it. What will happen to Blacksburg? Luckily, there are existing statistics and case studies out there to help us answer that question. We don’t have to go into this blind.

First, let’s look at how we could benefit from Kings Mountain’s casino. Indian casinos that locate themselves in impoverished areas like our own, almost always pump up the local economy and property values for home owners. They bring in enhanced amenities, elevated standards of living, and service jobs that offer better wages and benefits than any other in the local service industry scene. Unemployment rates drop around a newly opened casino, and the State and County governments get a sizable kickback from Gaming Taxes and others. Blacksburg could be an area to see unemployment rates drop.

A great example of the potential occupational benefits are those enjoyed by the residents of Del Norte County in California. The Talowan-Yurok Peoples built the Elk Valley Rancheria and Casino there in 1995, in one of the poorest counties in Cali. They started small but ended up being the counties largest employer. They also built the area up, adding a golf course, a bowling alley, a resort, and a performing arts center. They’ve also helped fund a $35 million wastewater treatment plant for the whole county, host a large July 4th celebration every year, gave interest free loans to the County Fair Board, and spearhead the county’s HeadStart program. Thanks to their casino, the. Talowan-Yurok are no longer poor.

That’s one of the larger positive effects of Native-run Casinos. They help fund tribal programs and give the First Nations new options. The Tunica-Biloxi were another tribe stuck in poverty. Just like the Talowan-Yurok, they lived in one of the poorest counties in their state. They built a casino in Marksville, Louisiana in 1994 and changed that. Now they have jobs, a higher standard of living, paved roads, museums, educational options, and tribal police. They’re also looking to take on the management of a local historical site that the state can’t afford to maintain, and build a new entrance to lighten traffic in a nearby residential area. Now, that’s helpful.

Now for the bad side. Casinos can strain rural roads, disrupt local business success, and raise the frequency of local bankruptcies and foreclosures. The I-85 Widening Project may help with the increased traffic, but it can’t help with gambling addiction and other social costs associated with casinos. There’s also the possibility that our sleepy town may catch the eye of developers due to it’s close proximity to Cleveland County, NC. This could lead to a string of ugly motels or tacky souvenir shops on the state line near Antioch Community. We could easily prevent that with a simple discussion about Zoning and Planning. I think we’ll be alright. We can hack it. We can hope for spill-over and share in Cleveland County’s successes and we can shield ourselves from the casino’s consequences.

“The Economic and Social Effects of Casinos” Cengage. Elite Cafemedia Publisher 2019. October 3, 2020. <encyclopedia.com>

“Economic Impact of Casinos on Home Prices”. Literature Survey and Issues Analysis. NAR Research. October 3, 2020. <stoppredatorygambling.org>

“Elk Valley Casino Inc.” Bloomberg Profile. Bloomberg. <bloomberg.com/profile> October 6, 2020

“Reclamation; Managing Water in The West”. Elk Valley Rancheria Water Resource Development Project. May 2010. October 6, 2020. <www.usbr.gov>

Romney, Lee “Tribe Spreads Wealth in Troubled Town” Los Angeles Times. May 18, 2003. October 6, 2020 <www.losangelestimes.com>

“Tunica-Biloxi Indians of Louisiana” Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. A Promise From The Sun. October 6, 2020

“Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Wins USET Lifetime Achievement Award” Cherokee One Feather. May 14, 2013. October 6, 2020.