North Carolina Gov. Signs Class III Gaming Pact with Catawba Tribe

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The North Carolina governor has signed an agreement with the Catawba Indian Nation, making them the second tribe with a Class III gaming compact. The agreement reached on Friday will also allow the two parties to form a casino revenue-sharing system from a planned resort in Kings Mountain. The Catawba Indian Nation, which tweeted the news of the agreement on Saturday, January 23, will now be able to start offering Class III casino gaming in the planned Two Kings Casino Resort in Kings Mountain, following the federal approval.

What Changes Will the Compact Bring?

Before the compact, the Catawba Indian tribe could only offer Class I and Class II gaming at the venue. According to the American Gaming Association, Class II gaming includes bingo and non-banked card games. Upon completion, the $273 million casino project will offer high-stakes table games and slot machines. Currently, the agreement awaits final approval from the US Department of the Interior. However, the agreement means building on the site can start, said the Rock Hill-based Catawba tribe.

The Catawbas are only the second group in the Old North State to acquire a compact for Class III gaming. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, with two casinos in western North Carolina, are the only other tribe. As of now, North Carolina has two casinos, both operated by Cherokees, in the southwestern part of the state. The Catawba tribe’s proposed Two Kings Casino Resort would be constructed around a half-hour west of Charlotte.

While welcoming the new compact, Catawba Nation Chief William Harris said that it will help generate thousands of jobs, besides bringing economic stimulus to the region. Now, the Catawbas expect to get the pact approved by the federal authorities since the measure mirrors the compact the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians agreed with the state, including the revenue payment terms.

Revenue-Sharing & Other Benefits

In a news release, Catawba chief said the state’s revenue share from the tribe’s casino gaming business would amount to an estimated $5 million to $10 million annually. Tribal administrator Elizabeth Harris said the state will have a percentage of the Catawba tribe’s live table gaming revenue. Besides, the tribe will also place $1 million to support officially recognized tribes and local communities with development projects. She further added that the fund for the purpose is projected to reach nearly $7.5 million per year upon full construction of the casino.

The tribe is currently looking to secure financing for the $273 million project, which has been in the planning phase for over seven years. After a ground-breaking hold last summer, preparatory work began on the site ahead of its development. The tribe intends to open a provisional gaming facility at the location by fall this year.

How Have We Reached Here?

The compact approval comes almost ten months after the Catawba Nation got federal approval to purchase the 16.8-acre site for the planned casino. In March 2020, the US Department of Interior issued the decision to give out the site into a trust for the Catawbas. However, the rival Cherokees challenged the Interior Department’s decision in federal court. The Cherokees’ case is pending but it was recently expedited by a federal judge in Washington DC. A hearing is expected next month, according to court documents.

On September 24, the US House Subcommittee for indigenous People of the US heard the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act (HR 8255), reaffirming the Interior Department’s decision.

The development regarding the casino project is underway as developer Wallace Cheves is planning a huge, three-phase residential construction at a 118-acre site near the casino. The project Catawba Village is the first such undertaking for the hundreds of acres surrounding the casino site.

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