The Catawba Indian Nation has secured a key state officials’ approval for its $273-million Kings Mountain casino project.
The tribe revealed that it had managed to reach an agreement for a Class III gaming compact with state leaders after facing a major legal challenge regarding the project. Under the deal, the Catawba Indian Nation will be allowed to situate high-stakes slot machines and table games at the project.
As the Native American nation said, Governor Roy Cooper approved the agreement, which is set to now seek final approval from the US Department of the Interior (DoI). According to a representative of the tribe, the Catawba Indian Nation should not face any issues with the gaming compact at this stage.
Securing such an agreement has been extremely important for the tribe, because, without it, the Catawbas would have only been able to offer Class I and Class II gaming (bingo and non-banked card games) at the casino in Kings Mountain. The Catawba Indian Nation has become only the second Native American tribe in the state of North Carolina that has received a Class III gaming compact, after the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which currently operates two casino venues in the western part of the state.
Catawba Indian NationSecures Class III Gaming Compact with the State
Apart from the opportunity to conduct traditional casino-style games, the recently approved compact creates a revenue-sharing agreement between the state of North Carolina and the Catawbas.
As the tribal administrator Elizabeth Harris revealed for a local media hub, the provisions of the deal are pretty similar to the ones included in the compact of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This means that the state is to receive a percentage of the live table gaming revenue of the tribe that has been projected to be between $5 million and $10 million on an annual basis.
The Catawba Indian Nation is also set to place $1 million into a fund that is especially aimed at supporting federal and state-recognized tribes and help local communities to develop some economic projects for the region. According to preliminary expectations, the fund could reach a value of $7.5 million per year at the time when the Kings Mountain casino project is fully built.
Back in March 2020, the US DoI issued a decision to put the land for the casino into trust for the Catawba Indians. The actual construction works on the project commenced in July 2020.
Despite the promising start, the Kings Mountain casino project has faced opposition on several levels. The Cherokee Indians took the tribe to court over the Department of the Interior’s decision. The case has been pending a Washington D.C. federal judge recently expedited it. According to court documents, a hearing is expected to take place sometime in February.
A hearing regarding the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act H.R. 8255 was held on September 24th, 2020, by the U.S. House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. Under the bill, the decision of the DoI would be reaffirmed despite the wave of criticism faced by the casino project.