North Carolina native casino breaks ground despite protests

By Charlotte Lee Updated
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A new casino has broken ground in the United States after years of debate as to whether or not it would ever come to be.

Gaston Gazette reports the Catawba Indian Nation broke group on the Kings Mountain gaming facility in North Carolina.

“Works has begun toward more prosperity, increased opportunities, and a renewed bond between the Catawba Indian nation and the great state of North Carolina,” chief Bill Harris said.

A new February 2020 economic impact assessment from London & Associates shows the casino resort will provide a $273 million investment in Cleveland County.

Project construction activity will generate $311 million with the employment of more than 2000 people from the direct, indirect and induced effects.

Once operational, the facility will generate $308 million per year of direct economic activity and employ 2600 workers, the study projected.

An additional $77.3 million per year in indirect impact through purchases from local businesses is also anticipated, along with another $42.8 million per year in induced impact from employer expenditures.

The total effect is more than 3500 jobs attributed to casino activity.

The casino is expected to open by summer 2021, and will initially feature approximately 1300 machines, food and beverage outlets and entertainment.

The new casino will be operated by global hospitality company Delaware North.

Governor approval needed to all casino style gaming

While the Catawba Nation is eager to start work, there are still a few more hurdles that the South Carolina-based tribe must go through to have more than bingo and non-banked card games at their facility.

The Nation will need approval from North Carolina’s governor to go from a class II to a class III gaming facility, which includes all other forms of gambling, including casino style gambling.

“We are very optimistic that the negotiations will take place in the near future. We look forward to being an outstanding partner to the state of North Carolina,” legal representative for Skyboat Gaming Wally Fayssoux said.

The Catawbas can only operate class III games if they have an agreement with the state and approval from the federal government, according to the American Gaming Association.

“The Tribe has the right to engage in class II gaming without a compact,” said tribal administrator Elizabeth Harris.

“However, the Tribe believes very much in working in partnership with other governments, not only Cleveland County and Kings Mountain, but also the state of North Carolina.

“The Tribe looks forward to negotiating a compact with the governor so that the great state of North Carolina can fully benefit from this important economic development project.”

Just last week, some Kings Mountains residents received flyers from Defend NC, a group decrying the building of the facility.

This is just one of many groups that have spoken out against the casino over the years.

Multiple Facebook groups have sprung back to life as news that a facility was coming.

A new petition meant for the Governor’s desk urges him not to allow the facility to receive class III gambling status.

“The Catawbas broke ground on casino near Kings Mountain, but there are two obstacles.

“There is a pending lawsuit to overturn the Department of Interior’s decision, and the tribe has not signed an agreement with the governor,” a statement from the group “Say NO to a Casino in Cleveland County” read.

In the years leading up the ground breaking, the group’s members have been vocal at county commission and city of Kings Mountain meetings.

One of the group’s fears is the crime that could be brought into the area.

The city and Nation have discussed the possibility and have each pledged to work together to stay on top of any crime generated on site, mayor Scott Neisler said.

“We are already working on ways to combat this,” he said.

Mr Neisler reiterated that neither the city nor the developers want the casino to turn into a haven for crime and will be a “wholesome entertainment complex.”

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