A judge in Columbia said Monday he needs more time to go through hundreds of pages of documents filed on behalf of the Catawba Indian Nation, which is seeking legal permission to operate a gambling casino on its York County reservation.
The Catawbas maintain they are allowed to do so under a settlement reached with South Carolina and the federal government 20 years ago. They also cite a state Supreme Court decision saying the tribe is entitled to operate the same types of games allowed anywhere else in the state.
The tribe’s attorneys argue a 2005 law allowing offshore gambling boats to dock in South Carolina means the Catawbas can operate similar games on their reservation.
But state officials disagree, saying the boats are only legal because they gamble in international waters. “I don’t think there’s any merit to it, to be honest,” said State Sen. Wes Hayes (R-Rock Hill), who was on the committee that helped draft the 1993 settlement agreement, “That was certainly not the will of the General Assembly.”
Hayes says, under the settlement, the tribe is only allowed to have two bingo halls — and not a casino.
The Catawbas’ bingo hall once stood at the former Rock Hill Mall on Cherry Road, and closed down in 2006 after the tribe said they were continually losing money with the introduction of the state lottery.
On Monday, Circuit Judge Ernest Kinard said he pushed back a decision because he just recently realized he was being asked to consider whether the tribe would be able to offer gambling immediately.
Andrew Kiel of Rock Hill affiliate WRHI contributed to this report