The Catawba Nation will hit a major milestone on its quest to operate a casino at noon Thursday as tribal leaders join with local, state, and federal officials to celebrate the grand opening of a temporary facility that will get the Catawba started in gaming Thursday.
That’s when the Two Kings Casino Resort “pre-launch facility” will open in Kings Mountain, NC. According to a release issued Tuesday, the temp casino will offer 500 slot machines spread across a 14,700-square-foot gaming area built from 29 modular trailers.
Besides a snack bar and service bar, Two Kings will also welcome food trucks to the property.
The initial casino will be smoke-free, but there will be designated smoking areas outside.
Construction on the temp structure began three months ago. And Thursday’s opening will take place nearly a year after the Catawba held a groundbreaking ceremony on the 17-acre site in the North Carolina town roughly 35 miles west of Charlotte.
The “pre-launch” casino will employ 250 people at the onset. In an interview last week with the Rock Hill (SC) Herald, Catawba Assistant Chief Jason Harris about 25 percent of those workers tribal members, including all of the slot technicians.
Catawba See Casino as Economic Engine
The next phase will begin later this year when construction starts on the permanent facility at the same location. The Catawba plans to invest $273 million in the development of the casino resort. It will take approximately a year for workers to build Two Kings. When complete, it will feature a total of 1,800 slot machines and gaming table seats.
Delaware North, a national gaming operator, is working with the Catawba as a consultant to the project.
Like other tribes that have entered into gaming, the Catawba see it as an economic development opportunity
The resort is expected to employ 2,600, but the residual impact will create thousands more. Officials expect up to 4,000 permanent jobs and up to 5,000 construction jobs in the community.
Two Kings Eight Years in the Making
The Catawba have pursued casino gaming for about eight years. However, the nation failed in efforts to develop one in South Carolina, where the tribe has land near Rock Hill, a Charlotte suburb.
Then in March 2020, the US Department of the Interior takes 17 acres of land in Cleveland County, NC into trust for the tribe, as recognition of the tribe’s ancestral ties to the region.
This past January, the Catawba and North Carolina Gov. Roy Copper agreed on a Class III gaming compact, which Interior officials approved two months later.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians filed a lawsuit to block the casino. That tribe operates two casinos in western North Caroline. A federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled in the Catawba’s favor in April.
At the time, Catawba Chief Bill Harris said the court’s decision proved federal officials were right in taking the land into trust.
The Interior Department righted a historical wrong, allowing the Catawba to achieve the promise of self-determination through economic development,” Harris said in a statement.
EBCI has since filed an appeal.
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