Pamunkey Indian Reservation Casino: A Debate between Morals and Money

As the Pamunkey Indian Reservation has received federal recognition as a tribe since February 2016. The talk of the town has been should they obtain their casino license?  If the Pamunkey Reservation were to build a casino it would be the first and only casino in Virginia.  However, this causes a large debate.

If they Pamunkey Tribe were to start a casino it could have grand economic benefits for the reservation.  Many natives and non-natives a like are all for it, and believe it could be a great thing for the reservation.  However, just as many people oppose this idea.  Including former Pamunkey Tribe Chief, Kevin Brown, Virginia government officials such as House speaker William J. Howell, Senators Timothy M. Kaine and Mark D. Warner, and Governor Terry McAuliffe.  All these people believe that the installation of a casino in Virginia will cause people to abuse casino gambling and the greed and slander that goes along with it could be detrimental to the community.  Former Pamunkey Tribe Chief Kevin Brown expressed his opinion on a Pamunkey casino here: “I have seen firsthand the greed and evil a deal like this can bring out in people and have changed my position regarding gaming as a viable endeavor for the tribe at this time.”  However, his tribal council and many Pamunkey Tribe members opposed him on this.  Brown also had this statement about his council regarding this issue: “Bob Gray, Brad Brown, Warren Cook and Ivy Hill, assisted by our former attorney, Mark Tilden, have taken it upon themselves to attempt to overthrow your traditional Government of a Chief & Council.”  Which this opposition eventually led to Brown losing his job as Chief.  Despite Virginia government official’s opposition they have stated that if the Pamunkey Tribe so chooses to go through with building a casino, they will not stand in their way.

Now this is a very heated debate with both sides having valid points and concerns.  It essentially becomes a battle between morals and money.  Which depending on what your morals are decides where you stand on this issue.  Having a Pamunkey Reservation Casino would no doubt be very beneficial to the Pamunkey Tribe, bringing in millions if not billions in revenue for the reservation.  Which would do a tremendous good for the reservation’s economy and the Tribe as a whole.  Not to mention being beneficial to Virginia’s economy as well by attracting more people to visit the state and stimulate the economy.

On the other hand there are some moral issues that need to be taken into account.  A casino could possibly be a negative influence on the community, as it encourages people to risk losing money they may or may not have.  Thus, there is a possibility of creating poverty because of this.  There is a possibility of an increase in crime, drugs, and alcohol usage centered around the casino.  These just being a few examples of negative affects from the casino.

Ultimately it comes to the point of “are the risks worth the reward?” and “do the positives outweigh the negatives?”.  No doubt a Pamunkey Tribe casino would have great economic benefit; however, there is also no doubt that there could be some serious consequences because of it.  These are questions that nobody knows the answers too, and they are decisions that only the Pamunkey Indian Reservation can make.

All information and quotes came from The Washington post article Pamunkey Indians wanted to open Virginia’s first casino, letter shows. 

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