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Temporary Catawba casino opens in North Carolina

July 1, 2021 GMT

KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. (AP) — The South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation has opened a preliminary, temporary version of its proposed casino just across the border in North Carolina.

Tribal leaders were joined by local and state government officials Thursday for a ribbon-cutting at the modular facility containing 500 slot machines just off Interstate 85 in Kings Mountain, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Charlotte. It’s a key step in ultimately creating the $273 million Catawba Two Kings Casino with plans for 2,600 permanent jobs and revenues for the tribe.

Spurned by South Carolina in previous efforts to offer gambling other than bingo in their home state, Catawba members sought to build a casino in North Carolina, citing what they call its historical and ancestral ties to land in the state. The U.S. Interior Department agreed in early 2020 to put 17 acres in Cleveland County into trust for the project.

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“Catawba Two Kings Casino represents the righting of a historical wrong for the Catawba Nation,” tribal Chief Bill Harris said in a news release. “But it is also so much more. It represents a prosperous future and renewed kinship between the Catawba Nation and the many communities that now occupy Catawba ancestral lands.”

The tribe and Gov. Roy Cooper agreed in January to a revenue-sharing compact, which was approved by federal officials in March.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which operates two casinos in far western North Carolina, sued the Catawbas and the Interior Department in federal court last year to try to stop the Kings Mountain casino. A federal judge sided with the Catawbas in April. The Eastern Band has appealed the ruling.

Construction on an introductory phase of the full casino and resort is expected to begin by the end of the year.