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Catawba Two-Kings Casino
Artist’s rendering of the pre-launch facility at the Catawba Two-Kings Casino in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Image courtesy Catawba Nation
Catawba Nation set for debut of long-awaited casino
Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Catawba Nation is finally opening the first phase of its long-awaited casino in North Carolina.

The Catawba Two Kings Casino is located in Kings Mountain. The pre-launch facility features 500 slot machines and will employ 250 people.

At the opening on Thursday, Chief Bill Harris is set to be joined by Mayor Scott Neisler of Kings Mountain and other local officials who have supported the project over the years, amid political and legal controversy.

The tribe has slowly overcome the hurdles since announcing the casino over seven years ago. One of the most recent victories was a federal court decision in April supporting the placement of about 17 acres in trust for the project.

“This decision reaffirms the clear historical record of the Catawba’s ancestral lands and cultural ties in North Carolina and the rigorous process of review undertaken by the U.S. Department of the Interior in taking the land into trust,” Chief Harris said on April 16. “The Interior Department righted a historical wrong, allowing the Catawba to achieve the promise of self-determination through economic development.”

Chief Bill Harris of the Catawba Nation announces the name of the Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort at a private event in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, on August 28, 2020. Photo by The Catawba Nation

A month prior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the tribe’s Class III gaming compact with the state of North Carolina. The government-to-government agreement authorizes the use of slot machines at Catawba Two Kings Casino.

“This is great news for the Catawba Nation, the State of North Carolina and the Kings Mountain region, and I’d like to thank the Bureau of Indian Affairs for its work in reviewing our compact,” Harris said on March 25. “Our focus now is developing the casino to bring economic benefits and thousands of jobs to the citizens of North Carolina.”

The tribe has since held two job fairs to fill positions at the pre-launch facility. A wide range of hospitality positions, from slot machine technicians and attendants to bartenders and servers, have been available.

Catawba Nation headquarters are located across the border in South Carolina, where gaming options are severely limited. But the federal law that settled the tribe’s land claim lawsuit includes portions of North Carolina in the tribe’s service area.

The tribe acquired the casino site at Kings Mountain in March 2020, but only after the Donald Trump administration reversed course on the matter and approved the tribe’s land-into-trust application. Republican allies of the Republican former president were among those in support of the gaming project.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has been among the most vocal opponents. The tribe, which operates three gaming facilities in the western portion of North Carolina, has claimed the Kings Mountain area as its aboriginal territory. The Cherokee Nation, based in Oklahoma, also joined the land-into-trust litigation as plaintiffs.

“Plaintiffs raise several close and complex questions of statutory and regulatory construction, and the court certainly cannot fault them for rolling the dice here,” Judge James Boasberg wrote in the decision rejecting the Cherokee opponents. “In the end, though, they come up with snake eyes, as on each claim they either lack standing or lose on the merits.”

The Catawba Nation anticipates completing a full-fledged casino sometime this fall. The doors to the pre-launch facility open at noon on Thursday.

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