A South Carolina tribe has received federal approval to build a casino in North Carolina.
The compact between the Catawba Indian Nation and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper that was reached in January has been approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, according to a news release posted on the Catawba Nation website.
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The Class III gaming agreement allows for construction to begin in Kings Mountain, Cleveland County, about 35 miles west of Charlotte. The Catawbas plan to open an “introductory facility” in the fall with at least 1,300 slot machines.
Called the “Two Kings Casino Resort in Kings Mountain,” it’s a roughly $300 million, 60,000-square-foot facility. Class III gaming includes slot machines and table games and is subject to tribal, state and federal authority.
Catawba Chief Bill Harris was notified of the compact approval in a March 19 letter from Darryl LaCounte, director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, according to the news release. It takes effect when the approval is published in the Federal Register.
“We completed our review of the compact and conclude that it does not violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and any provision of the federal law that does not relate to jurisdiction over gaming on Indian lands, or the trust obligations of the United States to Indians,” LaCounte wrote, according to the news release. “Therefore, pursuant to my delegated authority and Section 11 of IGRA, I approve the compact.”
Harris said the tribe’s will now focus on “developing the casino to bring economic benefits and thousands of jobs to the citizens of North Carolina.”
The Catawbas’ casino is being contested by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which owns two casinos in western North Carolina and launched sports betting at its Harrah’s Cherokee casinos last week, just in time for March Madness.
Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians released a statement Thursday, according to the Charlotte Observer, saying “this approval stems from the [Department of Interior’s] original illegal act to take land into trust and force an unwanted casino on North Carolina. We believe the facts are clear and that the court will invalidate this illegal casino and along with it, this compact.”