Posted: 6:09 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

Catawba Indian Nation wants to open casino in York County

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If there was a casino resort in Rock Hill, would you visit it?

Yes

91%

No

8%

By Linzi Sheldon

YORK COUNTY, S.C. —

The Catawba Indian Nation wants to open a huge casino in York County and if they get their way, people could be gambling very soon.

On Tuesday, it was busy on the Catawba Indian Reservation.

Tribal members said leaders of their executive committee, including Chief Bill Harris, were in Washington for an unrelated summit.

But tribal member Troy Canty said he was excited that gambling could come to the reservation soon

"We've been trying to get this here for a long time and I'm just glad to see we'll be able to move on it again," Canty said.

In January, the Catawbas filed a lawsuit against the state to build a giant gaming casino of their land.

The Catawbas argue that language in a settlement from 1993 and recent state laws allow them to have gambling on the reservation.

On Friday, Feb. 10, they filed a memo asking a judge to prevent law enforcement from seizing machines and arresting tribal members while the lawsuit is pending.

The motivation behind that request is in the memo itself, which states that the tribe plans to already have a gambling operation on the reservation by a hearing that Eyewitness News partner The Rock Hill Herald said it slated for Feb. 23.

"This group of people is saying, 'We don't care if it's prohibited or not -- we're going to do it and we challenge you to stop us,'" S.C. State Rep. Gary Simrill said. "I think the gauntlet has been thrown down."

Rep. Simrill, a Republican who represents the Rock Hill area, said he hopes local law enforcement will keep a close eye on the tribe's activities.

"I certainly think it would be wise for them not to institute gaming until the judge has had a chance to look at the case," he said.

The attorney for the Catawba Indian Nation did not return calls Tuesday.

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