KINGS MOUNTAIN, NC – The Catawba Two Kings Casino pre-launch facility in Kings Mountain recently opened to the public after Catawba Nation Chief Bill Harris cut a ceremonial ribbon with tribal, local and state government leaders. The 500-slot temporary facility was built in only four months using prefabricated modular structures on part of a 17-acre site just off Interstate 85, about 35 miles west of Charlotte. The facility, which will be open 24 hours daily, is providing an initial opportunity for patrons in the Charlotte region and beyond to game with limited food and beverage services and other guest amenities.
For the Catawba Nation, the opening represented the culmination of three decades of seeking to finally benefit from the federal service area of six North Carolina counties, including Cleveland County, that it was assigned by Congress in 1993 to recognize the tribe’s aboriginal and historical ties to the state.
“Catawba Two Kings Casino represents the righting of a historical wrong for the Catawba Nation,” said Chief Bill Harris. “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, including Kings Mountain, Cleveland County, and the State of North Carolina.”
“For many of us, it represents a bright future – a future with more jobs and educational opportunities,” said Chief Harris. We are thankful for the relationships that have been created in each community, for our partnerships with Delaware North and SkyBoat Gaming, and for the invaluable leadership that came from local officials in making this project a reality.”
Harris was joined at the ribbon cutting by Catawba Assistant Chief Jason Harris, Catawba Council members and Catawba Gaming Commission officials, state and local government officials and representatives of Delaware North, the Catawba’s consultant on the casino project, and SkyBoat Gaming, its developer.
“What an exciting day it is to finally get this entertainment complex open,” Scott Neisler, Mayor of Kings Mountain. “It brings so many positive aspects to our community – job creation, new housing opportunities, support for the Catawba Nation, and a significant economic impact to our community for years to come.”
About 250 people, including a significant number of Catawba Nation members, are employed at the pre-launch facility. It also created construction jobs in the region, with more to come when construction begins on an introductory phase of the $273 million full casino resort.
“This new entertainment facility is another step in creating jobs and economic benefits by making Cleveland County a destination for people throughout the Charlotte region and beyond,” said Johnny Hutchins, Cleveland County Commissioner. “We thank the Catawba Nation and its partners for seeing this through and look forward to the casino resort’s continued development.”
Construction on the introductory phase, which will be part of the permanent casino and feature an additional 1,300 slot machines, restaurants and other amenities, is expected to begin by year’s end and will take about a year to complete. The full casino resort project is expected to create 2,600 permanent jobs at full build-out and thousands of construction jobs in the region.
“Delaware North is incredibly proud of our partnership with the Catawba Nation,” said Lou Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North, the project consultant. “Two Kings will be a world-class destination for hospitality and entertainment, as well as an enduring driver of economic opportunity for the region. We are grateful to everyone in Kings Mountain, Cleveland County and the State of North Carolina who helped to make today’s ribbon cutting possible.”
The Catawba Nation’s Tribal-State Compact with the State of North Carolina will allow the state to share in revenues generated by the new casino. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s approval of the compact earlier this year allows the Catawba to conduct Class III gaming, including operating slot machines and table games.
In March 2020, the U.S. Department of the Interior, following a thorough, years-long review, took 17 acres of land into trust status in Cleveland County, NC for the Catawba Nation. The action recognized the Catawba Nation’s historical and ancestral ties to its aboriginal lands throughout North Carolina, as evidenced by names such as Catawba County and Catawba College, as well as in the six counties, including Cleveland County, specifically identified by Congress as part of the Catawba’s service area. The compact with North Carolina acknowledges this connection to North Carolina as well.
In addition to creating revenue for the State of North Carolina, the casino will help support an education fund that will benefit environmental conservation, provide educational support for members of federal and state-recognized tribes, support local communities on economic development initiatives and foster employment opportunities on or near Catawba lands.