Note: This story was first published Jan. 28, 2021. It was updated March 25, 2021 to include news of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ approval.
The Catawba Indian Nation now has federal approval to open a casino on tribal land in Kings Mountain, 35 minutes west of Charlotte.
Why it matters: It’s a procedural hurdle, but a big one, in the production of Two Kings Casino Resort, which is expected to open with an introductory facility before the end of 2021 while construction on the main facility continues.
- The news comes just a week after the state opened its first sports book betting sites at the Harrah’s casinos in Cherokee and Murphy.
What’s happening: The Catawba Nation entered into a compact with North Carolina’s government in January that would allow the tribe and the state to share revenues from the casino.
- It had to then go through a 45-day review with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- Catawba Chief Bill Harris received a letter on March 19 from the bureau saying everything looked good.
Zoom out: The compact between the state and the Catawbas permits the casino to offer class III gaming like blackjack and slots at their Two Kings Casino Resort.
- Class I and II games like bingo and poker don’t require state approval like Class III games do.
The timeline of the project hasn’t been finalized yet, but grading of the 17-acre site was nearly complete a few weeks ago. A spokesperson tells us they’ll have an update on the first phase — the “introductory gaming facility” — soon.
Details: The agreement between the state and tribe outlines casino revenue sharing and tax benefits between the state and the Catawbas. According to plans, the entertainment facility will cost $273 million.
- The 195,000-square-foot mixed use development will have over 75,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino will have 1,796 slots, 54 table games, and a player’s club, along with restaurants and bars with a total of 940 seats. It’ll be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. [Go deeper]
What they’re saying: Harris projects the casino will generate “thousands of jobs” and economic benefits for the area.
Background: Last March the U.S. Department of the Interior approved a proposal from the Catawba Indian Nation to build a casino complex on 16.57 acres in Kings Mountain. That was the first major step toward making the casino happen.