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Judge delays decision on Catawba gambling hall

COLUMBIA (AP) — A judge wants to take some more time before deciding whether South Carolina’s only federally recognized tribe can open a gambling hall on its reservation in York County.

Circuit Judge Ernest Kinard said last week that he’ll need to review the hundreds of pages of legal documents already filed in the case before ruling whether the Catawba Indian Nation can immediately begin offering gambling

The Catawbas sued South Carolina and State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel in January, saying their settlement with the state and U.S. governments two decades ago allows the reservation to have gambling. They also said a decision by the state Supreme Court determined the tribe can have the same types of games that are permitted in other areas of South Carolina.

The tribe said the state passed a law in 2005 allowing gambling cruises to leave from the state’s ports, so South Carolina should allow the Catawbas to offer the same games at a new gambling hall near Rock Hill. They want the judge to issue a temporary restraining order keeping SLED and other law enforcement from arresting them if they start offering gambling while the lawsuit is in court.

But the state said that that same law specifies that gambling can’t begin on the boats until they reach international waters and specifically prohibits any casino-like gambling in areas controlled by South Carolina. The state wants the lawsuit immediately thrown out.

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