The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has appealed a ruling by a federal judge that allowed the Catawba Indian Nation to proceed with plans for a casino in North Carolina.
The Catawbas, based in South Carolina, have broken ground on a $300 million, 60,000-square-foot facility called “Two Kings Casino Resort in Kings Mountain” in Cleveland County, about 35 miles west of Charlotte.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in April ruled that he found no basis for the Cherokees’ claims that historically the land the Catawbas are building the casino on was theirs, according to The Associated Press. The Cherokees also said the U.S. Department of Interior violated U.S. law in granting the land trust for the Catawbas. The original lawsuit was filed in March 2020.
The Cherokee Nation named the judge and the U.S. Department of Interior as defendants in their notice of appeal filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington late last week, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Sneed, in a statement over the weekend, said the judge noted the complexity of the case and how his ruling was “a close call,” the Observer reported. Sneed said his tribe still believes the Department of Interior “violated law in authorizing the Catawba casino, and our appeal is simply the next step in the process to ensure that justice is done.”
Federal approval for the compact between the Catawbas and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper that was reached in January was granted by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Catawba Chief Bill Harris was notified of the compact approval in a March 19 letter.
The Catawbas said when the compact was reached with the state that it planned to open an “introductory facility” in the fall with at least 1,300 slot machines. Class III gaming includes slot machines and table games and is subject to tribal, state and federal authority.
The Cherokees own two casinos in western North Carolina and launched sports betting at its Harrah’s Cherokee casinos in time for March Madness.