BIA Clears Way for Third Casino in North Carolina
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) recently okayed a revenue-sharing agreement between North Carolina and the Catawba Indian Nation, one of the last hurdles between the tribe and its long-held goal to build a casino in North Carolina.
The Catawba Indian Nation is a native American tribe based in Rock Hills, South Carolina – just over the border from Charlotte, North Carolina, close enough to be a suburb of Charlotte if a state line didn’t run between them.
The casino, only recently officially named the Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort, has been nearly a decade in the planning.
It is being built on land in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, about 30 miles west of Charlotte. That land is held in trust for the Catawba people by the US Department of Interior (DOI), of which the Bureau of Indian Affairs is an agency.
According to initial plans, the property will eventually feature a total of 750 guest rooms and hundreds of thousands of square feet of Las Vegas-style casino floor filled with nearly 1,800 Class III electronic gaming devices and 54 table games, including house-banked games such as blackjack and roulette. That is the eventual goal.
By September of this year, the tribe intends to open a far more modest 60,000 square foot temporary casino that will include around 1,300 slot machines as well as a restaurant.
One potential snag that could delay or even halt any version of the Catawba Two Kings Casino from being built is a lawsuit brought in 2020 against the project by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Right after the DOI, on behalf of the Catawba people, took the 16.75 acres of land in Kings Mountain into trust for the tribe.
The Cherokee lawsuit seeks to reverse the DOI/BIA decision to give the Kings Mountain acreage to the Catawba Nation.
That was in March 2020. The Catawba casino had been given a proper name by August, and the tribe broke ground on the construction project. The Cherokee lawsuit, however, continues to work its way through the judicial system.
Talking to reporters about the BIA’s recent approval of the revenue-sharing agreement – and of his own tribe’s lawsuit – Richard Sneed, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, called the BIA’s taking of the land in trust for the Catawba an “illegal act” that would “force an unwanted casino on North Carolina.”
The Cherokees operate two casinos in North Carolina: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino near Asheville and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino in Murphy in the southwest corner of the state just across the lines from Georgia and Tennessee.
The Catawba casino at Kings Mountain would represent a much closer alternative for Charlotte’s gamblers.