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Greenville Business Magazine

Catawba Nation Set to Begin Construction of Permanent Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort

May 31, 2024 06:02PM ● By David Dykes

(Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort rendering provided.)

The Catawba Nation is set to begin construction of a more than $700 million permanent casino resort in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, about 35 minutes from downtown Charlotte, after finalizing a settlement with its former casino developer over the ground lease for its trust lands.

The Catawba Nation finalized the private settlement with South Carolina developer Wallace Cheves’ Sky Boat Gaming in early May, removing the firm from any interest in the project. 

The Catawba Nation in February also purchased from Sky Boat land around its temporary casino, including the parking lot and additional property that may be used to support resort amenities and experiences.

“We persevered to achieve a fair deal so that we can now realize the full financial and economic benefits of the project for Catawba Nation members and residents of Cleveland County,” Catawba Nation Chief Brian Harris said.

 “The establishment of this casino is not just about bricks and mortar; it symbolizes our commitment to preserving our tribal identity, supporting our community and creating opportunities for our people. This project will not only generate revenue for our tribe but also provide jobs, education and social programs that will benefit our members and the surrounding region," Harris said.

Harris added, "These jobs, including construction jobs, along with increased patron traffic, will provide local governments and the state of North Carolina with additional tax revenue and other investments under our compact. The Catawba are working to keep casino revenue in North Carolina as opposed to what outside commercial casino companies would do.”

Planning for the permanent casino resort continued while the settlement was being negotiated, with construction and design plans now finalized. Initial financing is in place and a ceremonial groundbreaking is set for 10 a.m. June 7 at the site to mark the beginning of construction.

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed to making this dream a reality – from our tribal council, legal team, (Catawba Nation) Gaming Authority, (Catawba Nation) Gaming Commission and partners, to the hard-working individuals who will construct this casino. Together, we stand united in our mission to build a sustainable future for our tribe and uphold our cultural values,” Harris said.

Work has also been completed on two key infrastructure projects for development of the permanent casino resort that were funded by the Catawba Nation: doubling the size of the Dixon School Road Bridge over Interstate 85 near the casino entrance and installing new sewer lines near the casino.

Delaware North, the global hospitality and entertainment company that has served as a consultant to the Catawba Nation on the project since 2019, is expected to manage and serve as developer of the permanent casino resort once the contracts are approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission. 

SOSHNY Design, which has designed many casino resorts, including Delaware North’s $320 million Southland Casino Hotel in West Memphis, Arkansas, is the architect.

During construction, the Catawba Nation will continue to operate its temporary casino, which opened in 2021 and features 1,000 slot machines, electronic table games (ETGs), a retail sportsbook and restaurant. The temporary casino is set to add 12 live table games and 56 additional slot machines in early summer, along with additional surface parking.

The permanent casino resort, which will be about 2 million square feet at full buildout, will be completed in two main phases:

Introductory Casino – This phase will be constructed at ground level with 1,350 slots/ETGs, 12 table games and a restaurant with 40 seats that will include a sportsbook area with 30 self-service kiosks. In addition, supporting back-of-house space for surveillance, security, the cage and part of the first two floors of the parking garage (1,600 spots) will be completed above the ground level.

Upon opening, estimated for early 2026, the Introductory Casino will replace the current temporary facility. Employment will be at about 420 positions, which is 20 more than what is anticipated when the new table games area in the temporary casino opens this summer.

Full Casino Resort – Construction will then begin on the 400-room hotel and the remainder of the casino complex, which will be stacked above the ground floor. The hotel tower will be a separate structure that is connected to the casino complex to maximize the patron experience.

The casino complex will feature three levels of parking (floors 2-4), an entire floor devoted to back-of-house operations and offices, and the main casino floor and restaurants on top.

At full buildout, the main casino complex will be about 2 million square feet and feature:

  • 4,300 slots
  • 100 table games
  • Five restaurants, including a steakhouse, Italian restaurant, marketplace buffet, café and grab-and-go outlet
  • A players lounge
  • Six bars, including a center bar and sports bar.

There is no estimate at this time of when the main casino complex and hotel will be completed. After the main casino complex opens, the Introductory Casino will become the smoking section of the casino.

Upon completion, the casino resort will employ an estimated 2,200 team members.

Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort is being developed by the Catawba Nation at a 17-acre site at 538 Kings Mountain Blvd. in Kings Mountain, N.C. The site is near I-85 Exit 5 and about 35 miles west of Charlotte.

A temporary “pre-launch” gaming facility features 1,000 gaming machines, including electronic table games, North Carolina’s closest sportsbook to Charlotte, and casual dining.

At full buildout, the casino resort project is expected to create thousands of construction and permanent jobs in the region.

The Two Kings name celebrates the Catawba Nation’s history and hopeful future in their ancestral lands in North Carolina, paying tribute to the 18th century Catawba Chief King Hagler and the city of Kings Mountain.