Sen. Hayes: Video poker is the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling

Posted April 2, 2014 8:38 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News

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The South Carolina Supreme Court has shot down a request by the Catawba Indian Nation to open video poker gaming facility on its York County reservation.

The high court, in a decision released Wednesday, said the Catawbas’ plan to do so under the Gambling Cruise Act would be unconstitutional.

State Sen. Wes Hayes of Rock Hill — an outspoken opponent of video poker — believes the court’s decison is on point.

“I think it’s well accepted that video poker was a disaster for South Carolina,” he said. “It’s the crack cocaine of gambling. It’s the most addictive form of gambling you can have and we felt the full weight of it.”

Hayes said under a 1993 settlement agreement between with the tribe, the Catawbas opted out of the Indian Gaming Rights Act. Any change to do so now would require action by the S.C. Legislature — a change Hayes does not think will pass.

“The Catawbas agreed to be treated like anyone else,” Hayes said. “No one else is allowed to have casinos or video poker in South Carolina.” 

Hayes said the Catawbas likely look at the Cherokee Indian Nation and its highly profitable casino operations in the North Carolina mountains as a solid source of revenue.

Representatives of the Catawba Indian Nation did not return repeated requests for comment on this story.