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Catawba Nation Begins $700M North Carolina Casino

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Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: Jun 5, 2024

NC's promising future

The Catawba Nation, a federally recognized tribe headquartered in Rock Hill, South Carolina, has announced the commencement of construction on its highly anticipated $700 million casino in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Tribe leaders confirmed that the groundbreaking ceremony for the permanent Two Kings Casino Resort will take place on June 7 at 10 a.m. The casino will be situated approximately 35 miles west of Charlotte, near the South Carolina border.

 

The construction of the casino, which had been delayed due to a legal dispute with former casino developer Sky Boat Gaming, marks a significant milestone for the Catawba Nation. The lawsuit, centered on the ground lease for the trust lands, was settled in May for an undisclosed amount, allowing the tribe to move forward with the project.

According to tribal leaders, the construction of the Two Kings Casino Resort will unfold in two phases. The first phase, anticipated to be completed by early 2026, will create approximately 2,000 jobs and feature a variety of gaming and dining options, including:

 

  • A single-story casino with 1,350 slot machines and electronic gaming machines
  • 12 table games
  • A 40-seat restaurant
  • A sportsbook equipped with 30 self-service kiosks

 

The second phase will expand the resort’s offerings to include:

  • A 400-room hotel
  • 4,300 slot machines
  • 100 table games
  • Five restaurants
  • Six bars, including a center bar and sports bar
  • A players’ lounge

Upon completion, the resort will employ nearly 2,000 individuals.

 

Economic and Community Impact

Brian Harris, Chief of the Catawba Nation, emphasized the broader significance of the project in a recent news release. He stated that the tribe persevered to achieve a fair deal so that they could now realize the full financial and economic benefits of the project for Catawba Nation members and residents of Cleveland County. Harris noted that the establishment of this casino is not just about bricks and mortar; it symbolizes the tribe’s commitment to preserving their tribal identity, supporting their community, and creating opportunities for their people. He also highlighted that the increased patron traffic would generate construction jobs and additional tax revenue, benefiting local governments and the state under the compact.

Since 2021, the Catawba Nation has operated a temporary casino in Kings Mountain, featuring over 1,000 slot machines, video table games, and a retail sportsbook. The tribe had initially planned to develop a permanent resort within a couple of years, but the legal battle with Sky Boat Gaming, which demanded a $125 million payoff, delayed the project. The settlement reached last month removed Sky Boat Gaming from any interest in the casino project, paving the way for the tribe to proceed with its development plans.

 

The establishment of this casino is not just about bricks and mortar; it symbolizes our commitment to preserving our tribal identity, supporting our community, and creating opportunities for our people.”

 

Current Gaming Landscape in North Carolina

While North Carolina has yet to approve retail or online casinos, the state launched online sports betting earlier this year. The Catawba Nation has applied for an online sports betting license and is seeking a partner operator. Currently, North Carolina residents can visit two other retail sportsbooks operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokees in partnership with Caesars Entertainment: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.

The Catawba Nation’s collaboration with Delaware North, a global hospitality giant and the tribe’s consultant since 2019, will be instrumental in bringing the Two Kings Casino Resort to fruition.

The Two Kings Casino Resort promises to be a significant economic driver for the region, providing jobs, education, and social programs that will benefit both the Catawba Nation members and the surrounding communities. As the project progresses, it will also serve as a symbol of the tribe’s resilience and dedication to preserving their cultural heritage while fostering economic growth.

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