North Carolina lawmakers are currently discussing the possibility of opening a new casino in the southeastern part of the state. The proposed casino would be run by the Lumbee Tribe and is one of four entertainment districts that Republican leaders are hoping to establish across the state. These districts, which would include hotels, water parks, and other amenities, are seen as a way to boost the economy of rural areas.
Republican Jarrod Lowery, a member of the Lumbee Tribe and a Republican from Robeson County, has expressed support for the plan and believes it could greatly benefit the region. Mr. Lowery added that the entertainment districts would attract more tourists to the state’s rural regions, which will also benefit small businesses.
Other proposed locations for the entertainment districts include Anson, Nash, and Rockingham counties. State lawmakers consider selecting one company to develop the other three commercial casinos in North Carolina as part of a new $1.5 billion investment.
Not Everyone in the Pembroke Area Supports the Casino Proposal
But apparently, there is some controversy surrounding the potential casino in the Pembroke area. While legislative leaders are hoping to include proposals for the casino in the state’s budget this year and are reportedly close to reaching a deal, many people in the area declined to comment on the matter. Some turned to tribal leaders for official statements, others did not want to get involved in politics, and some preferred to remain anonymous.
Lumbee Tribal Chairman John Lowery explained that the tribe is aware of the discussions about the proposed entertainment districts and that lawmakers and the governor will make the final decision. He also used the opportunity to thank state leaders for supporting the Lumbee Tribe over the years. However, the proposed tribal casino evoked mixed feelings among locals. While some find the idea of having an entertainment district in the area great, others oppose the casino proposal.
The Lumbee Tribe Lacks Full Recognition to Operate a Casino
The Lumbee Tribe, headquartered near Pembroke, currently does not have full federal recognition to operate a casino, but could potentially move forward with the project through a state licensing process. Under the tribe’s constitution, tribal members have to vote on whether to operate such a facility if state lawmakers approve the casino project.
The Lumbee Tribe was officially recognized by the state in 1885 and partially recognized by Congress in 1956. But the Lumbee Tribe has faced some pushback from other Native American tribes, which have argued that the Lumbees lack cultural identifiers, such as a shared language. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the only tribe in the state with full federal recognition, has suggested the Department of the Interior determine whether the Lumbees deserve full recognition.
Casinos have been a point of contention, with the Eastern Band opposing a casino operated by the Catawba tribe that opened near Charlotte last year. The Lumbee Tribe has proposed opening their own casinos, which would be the first casinos in North Carolina located outside of tribal lands.