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South Carolina Tribe Breaks Ground On $300 Million Casino Resort In North Carolina

Catawba Nation Tribe Still Needs Approval From Gov. Roy Cooper To Offer Class III Gaming, Will Start With Temporary Casino

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The Catawba Nation tribe of South Carolina broke ground on land in North Carolina Wednesday as they begin the construction of a $300 million casino resort outside Charlotte, according to a local CBS affiliate.

Once completed, the Kings Mountain Catawba Casino will be the third casino resort in the state. The other two are run by The Eastern Band of Cherokees in Western North Carolina near Asheville. Harrah’s Cherokee has been home to the World Series of Poker Circuit Global Casino Championship for the last several years. There are no commercial casinos in the state.

The new casino is expected to house 54 table games, 1,800 electronic games, a hotel, retail outlets and several restaurants over its 195,000 square feet.

The move comes a few months after the South Carolina tribe won federal approval from the Department of the Interior in March. There was a dispute between the two tribes as the Cherokees argued that the Rock Hill-based Catawbas were infringing on Cherokee land.

There is a lawsuit pending in federal court, but the DOI denied the Cherokee’s injunction to stop the project from being built. The DOI agreed to put the disputed land into a trust for the Catawbas.

The Catawba tribe still needs approval from Gov. Roy Cooper to operate a casino with Class III gaming, but developers told the local media that if the approval doesn’t come before construction is complete, then the tribe will operate a smaller, temporary casino until the approval is received.

In a statement released to the Charlotte Business Journal, Cooper confirmed that negotiations over a proper gaming compact have not even started. Those negotiations will likely start after the pending lawsuit is adjudicated.

Class III gaming includes table game and high-stakes slots, but even without approval from the governor, the Catawbas will be allowed to offer class II gaming, which includes bingo and non-banked card games. Tribal governments have the authority to oversee class II gaming. Class III gaming requires oversight from state regulators.

The Catawba Nation estimates that the casino will create 4,000 new jobs. They plan to complete the temporary casino by early summer 2021, but the full resort will take another 18 months of construction to complete.