New Federal Law Reaffirms North Carolina Tribal Casino Gaming Rights

The Catawba Nation has endured an ongoing battle to open a casino in North Carolina. The tribe is located in South Carolina but the land acquired for the project was just across the state border.

The primary opposition to the project came from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This gaming tribe owns and operates two land-based North Carolina casinos in the Tar Heel State.

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New Federal Law is Signed

Through the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act, hopefully this matter has finally been put to rest. The new law was recently signed by President Joe Biden to reaffirm the tribe’s rights to operate a casino in North Carolina.

In accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the tribe’s territory does extend from South Carolina into North Carolina, where construction on the casino is underway. The Catawba Nation opened a temporary gaming facility in the summer of last year.

Catawba Two Kings Casino is located in Kings Mountain which is in Cleveland County, NC. This is right off of Interstate 85 near the border of these two states.

A Battle Covering Decades is Finally Resolve

As the chief of the Catawba Tribe, William Harris expressed his gratitude for the new law. He called this “the final step” in the decades-long struggle.

The Cherokee Tribe continually challenged the Catawba’s claim of tribal land in North Carolina. This new federal law should finally end the dispute between the two gaming tribes. Any further legal action would be considered a challenge to federal legislation.

The Department of the Interior placed the land in a trust back in March of 2020. This gave the Catawba Tribe the greenlight to continue with its plans to build Two Kings Casino Resort. The first phase of the plan was to open a temporary gaming facility as a starting point for the actual resort.

Construction on the actual Two Kings Casino Resort started around the same time the temporary facility first opened. The site consists of 17 acres. This was part of aboriginal lands that extend across six different North Carolina counties.

These six counties were defined as the Catawba Tribe’s service area by the US Congress in 1993.

Moving Forward With Catawba Two King’s Casino Resort

The tribe’s gaming compact with North Carolina was formally approved in March of 2021. The temporary gaming venue opened with a total of 500 gaming machines. Increased demand led to an expansion that would house an additional 500 gaming devices.

The cost of the entire project is close to $275 million. While no timeline has been set for its completion, casino gaming is likely to be complemented with sports betting through a retail sportsbook.

At the present time, the only legal retail sports betting in North Carolina is at the two existing casinos owned and operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This includes the Casino at Harrah’s Cherokee in Cherokee, NC, and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino in Murphy.

Legislative efforts to bring legal online sports betting to the state could alter the current status. More and more state lawmakers are lending their support towards these efforts ahead of the 2022 legislative session.

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