04/24/06 — Ugh? Gambling powwow at a stalemate

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Ugh? Gambling powwow at a stalemate

Shades of yesteryear?

A Cherokee Indian chief isn’t exactly saying the great paleface chief in Raleigh spoke with forked tongue. But Chief Michell Hicks suggests that Gov. Mike Easley might have come pretty close.

The Cherokees and the governor had been working out a deal to greatly expand the tribe’s casino operations a la Las Vegas and add a second casino. Chief Hicks says the plan would have created 2,500 more jobs in the Cherokee area and, among other benefits, would have sent $10 million to a foundation controlled by the governor for mental health needs.

The tribe thought it was a “done deal,” needing only the governor’s signature.

But then, according to the chief, the governor wanted the $10 million to bypass the foundation and go directly to the state. Chief Hicks said the governor also wanted a cut of around $50 million for the state to agree to live gaming at the casino.

Negotiations have been broken off by the governor, whose office was quoted in one news story as saying that the tribe had given a “less than accurate” characterization of the talks.

The chief responds with, “I don’t want to sit here and say I’ve been lied to, but if you’re going to tell me no, then tell me no. Don’t walk me down the path and then, all of a sudden, the path has no end.”

The present casino is video-only, with machines offering 3,500 games of blackjack and poker, along with slot machines. The Cherokees wants live games, higher limits and credit to gamblers.

Since the negotiations have been under way, North Carolina has gone into its own widespread gambling operations with a lottery.

Might Chief Hicks be wondering if the great white chief in Raleigh is wary of too much potential competition from the tribe in the west?


Published in Editorials on April 24, 2006 11:34 AM