Thursday will be a milestone for the Catawba Nation as its Catawba Two Kings Casino”pre-launch” facility will open to the public.
The launch comes after the federal government approved the revenue sharing pact between the Catawba Nation and the state of North Carolina. That agreement was signed off by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs last March.
Constructed using prefabricated modulars, the pre-launch site in Kings Mountain, North Carolina is set to offer 500 slot machines spread across 14,700 square feet of gaming area.
The initial casino will be smoke-free but smoking areas will be designated outside the temporary casino. Aside from a snack bar and service bar, food trucks will also be positioned in the property.
The construction of the pre-launch site began three months ago and it has employed 250 people on site. According to Catawba assistant chief Jason Harris, around 25% of the construction workers are from the tribe, including all the slot technicians.
Construction of Permanent Facility
The next phase of the master plan begins later this year when construction of the $273M permanent casino at the same site commences. That part of the project broke ground in July 2020 and is expected to be completed in about a year.
Situated off Dixon School Road in Kings Mountain, Cleveland County, the 17-acre site is near Interstate 85 and about 35 miles west off Charlotte. Once completed, it will have a total of 1,800 slot machines and gaming table seats.
The Catawba Two Kings Casino will employ 2,600 employees but its residual impact will create thousands more. According to officials, an estimated 4,000 permanent jobs will open up for the community.
Years in the Making
The Catawba Nation has been pursuing a casino for eight years now. However, their initial efforts to develop one in South Carolina, where they have a property in near Rock Hill, failed.
Then on March 2020, the US Department of Interior took 17 acres of land in Cleveland County into trust for the tribe in recognition of their ancestral ties to the region. At the start of this year, the Gov. Roy Cooper and the Catawba Nation agreed on a Class III gaming compact, which the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved a couple of months later.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who operate the two current casinos in North Carolina, filed a lawsuit to block the casino. However, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Catawba last April. The EBCI tribe has since filed an appeal.