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South Carolina Tribal Gaming

In 1993, the Catawba Indian Nation became South Carolina's only federally recognized tribe after they signed an agreement with the U.S. government and the state of South Carolina. The settlement awarded the Catawbas a 700-acre reservation and the right to operate two bingo halls – one on the tribe's original land, and the second at an off-reservation location subject to local approval. The tribe opened a bingo hall on tribal land in Rock Hill.

In December 2005, Judge Joseph Strickland ruled that the Catawba Tribe had the right to operate video poker on its reservation about 10 miles south of Charlotte even though the game was outlawed by the state constitution. The ruling gave the tribe better odds for negotiating for the high-stakes electronic bingo casino they desired. But the tribe's leverage was short lived.

In March 2007, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled the Catawba could not operate video poker machines on their reservation, saying the state ban on video poker also applied to the tribe. The tribe attempted to appeal the decision, but the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. With its leverage gone, the tribe was unable to gain authorization from the state to build the high-stakes bingo facility it wanted.

The ruling was a only a temporary setback for the Catawbas, who had closed their bingo facility in 2006 in anticipation of relocating it off tribal land, but were unsuccessful in gaining approval. In summer 2013, the tribe entered the final phase of negotiations with the county to lease a 45,000-square-foot building. In July 2014, the bingo hall opened. The tribe is authorized by the state to allow prizes as large as $100,000.

In February 2012, two developers announced plans to build an off-reservation Cherokee casino resort on 50 acres in Hilton Head Island. The casino would be operated and the land owned by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma. But the project, which includes a four-star hotel, a golf course and a convention center, hasn't progressed because Gov. Nikki Haley has publicly opposed it.
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South Carolina Tribal Gaming

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