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Hilton Head Citizen Reporter: Casino Proposal Gets Cool Reception from Some in Lowcountry

A sizeable number of Hilton Head Island residents oppose the potential establishment of a gambling casino in nearby Jasper County, according to Tom Hatfield, a Citizen Reporter for The Nerve.

The overwhelming majority of the 90 or so attendees at a recent meeting of the Hilton Head Island First Monday Republican lunch group were resistant to a proposal being floated to build an upscale resort, shopping and entertainment complex with gambling at its core, Hatfield said.

“If there was anyone at the meeting who was for the idea, they didn’t say anything,” he said.

Hatfield sent a letter to Gov. Nikki Haley recently urging her not to approve the proposed project, which is targeted for the Jasper County community of Hardeeville.

Haley would have to give approval to such a project under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that would govern the casino operation.

The casino would be operated by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, which would own the land on which the casino is built.

Haley’s office responded to Hatfield’s letter on April 11, stating:

“Just like all the residents of Jasper County, the governor desperately wants to bring jobs to Hardeeville. She works every single day to recruit new jobs, expand existing companies and put South Carolinians back to work.

“However,” Haley’s letter continues, “she believes South Carolina does not have to settle when it comes to good jobs and that there is a better way to bring economic development to the Hardeeville area.”

The letter was signed by Rebecca Schimsa, special assistant to Haley’s chief of staff, Tim Pearson.

As of March, Jasper County had an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, according to information released by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce last week.

Nearby Beaufort County’s unemployment rate for the same period was just over 7 percent. The rate in both counties is below the statewide average of 8.9 percent, according to DEW.

Tom Hatfield, a member of the S.C. Agency Head Salary Review Commission, is a Citizen Reporter for The Nerve who lives in Hilton Head.

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