The Governor’s Race and Casino Gambling

By Paul Gable

The desire for casino gambling has never left the minds of certain players along the Grand Strand.

In 2009, this group put its initial support behind Gresham Barrett in the governor’s race. Remember the $85,000 funneled to Barrett that was part of Coastal Kickback?

It only takes the signature of the governor on an agreement with a Native American tribe to bring casino gambling into the state. Both state and local governments are not part of the process.

But, Barrett lost and Nikki Haley became governor. So far Haley has refused to sign an agreement with any Indian tribe to allow the opening of gambling casinos despite efforts along the Grand Strand, in Hardeeville and in the Upstate.

However, we are hearing about as many as four different groups looking at locations in Horry County, including the old Myrtle Square Mall site, the former Pavilion site with adjacent land, a site near the intersection of S.C. 22 and S.C. 31 and a site on S.C. 9.

The thinking goes that Haley will be much more amenable to signing an agreement allowing casino gambling in the state if she is elected to a second term as governor.

We do find it interesting that the governor reportedly has become a beneficiary of Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s political money through former S.C. Republican Party chairman Katon Dawson.

Dawson has worked well with the Grand Strand’s so-called movers and shakers in the past helping to bring the GOP presidential primary debates to Myrtle Beach in 2008 and 2012.

There has long been talk of casino gambling being the next step in tourism development along the S.C. coast and serious planning is going on behind the scenes, we are told.

However, it may not be the answer to reinvigorating the tourism climate. One only has to look at all the red ink in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and along the Gulf Coast in recent years to see casino gambling is not the growth and profit industry it once was.

But when has reality mattered in Horry County? It is trying to get into the interstate highway business fifty years too late. Why not push casino gambling when it is on the decline?


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