A Catawba Indian Nation casino planned for North Carolina had a ground-breaking ceremony in mid-July. It now has a tentative date for the first phase of the project.
The tribe, which is based in South Carolina, plans to build and open an “introductory facility” by next fall, according to the Charlotte Observer. Called the “Two Kings Casino Resort in Kings Mountain,” it’s a roughly $300 million, 60,000-square-foot facility located about 35 milies west of Charlotte in Cleveland County.
CHECK OUT: The top US online casinos
Tribal Administrator Elizabeth Harris said the facility will have at least 1,300 slot machines, according to the story in The Observer.
The casino is being contested by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which owns two casinos in western North Carolina and recently announced it has agreed to an amended compact with Gov. Roy Cooper to allow sports betting to move forward at its Harrah’s Cherokee casinos.
Although the North Carolina sports betting bill was passed in July 2019 by the General Assembly and signed into law by Cooper later that month, the process was delayed for more than a year while an amendment to the gaming compact was worked out between the state and the tribe. The coronavirus pandemic has been cited as one reason for the delay, according to a published report.
The law made in-person wagering legal at the Eastern Band of Cherokee casinos in Cherokee and Murphy. The compact still needs signatures from the governor, secretary of state and attorney general before being sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs and a 45-day public comment period needs to be advertised before it can go into effect, according to the Smoky Mountain News.
In March, the U.S. Interior department decided to put the Kings Mountain casino land in trust, allowing for the casino to be developed.
In late October, Cooper's administration received a proposal from the Catawbas on how it would run the casino, according to the Associated Press. The draft could become the basis for a gambling compact that lays out the games that would be offered and revenue the state would receive, the report said.
The Observer said Cooper and the tribe have had discussions about a compact.
The National Indian Gaming Commission reported last week that tribal casinos had record high revenues in the 2019 fiscal year, with gross gaming revenue at an industry-record $34.6 billion. That was an increase of 2.5% over the $33.7 billion recorded in fiscal 2018.
That was possible because casino reporting for the 2019 fiscal year ended before the coronavirus pandemic forced every tribal gaming operation across the nation to temporarily close. The revenue was determined by 522 casinos submitting independently audited financial reports, comprised of 245 federally recognized tribes in 29 states.
Nearly every NIGC region experienced growth with the Oklahoma City region seeing the largest increase of 7.7%.