A federal investigation has blocked the construction of the controversial Class III tribal casino resort project in close proximity to Charlotte, North Carolina.
According to recent media reports, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) is currently investigating the construction plans of the Catawba Nation for its Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain.
The Wall Street Journal reported that federal officials have been investigating claims that the aforementioned tribal nation may not be the primary beneficiary of the gaming activity as it is supposed to be under the provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The news hub’s article further noted that a number of people linked to popular politicians, such as John Clyburn, brother of US Representative James Clyburn, have drawn benefit from the Two Kings casino project. Reportedly, other beneficiaries from the Catawba casino were Patti Solis Doyle, a Democratic campaign organizer, and the husband of Nikki Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina, Michael Haley.
The aforementioned individuals are linked to Kings Mountain Equipment Supply, a company that, according to the article in The Wall Street Journal, receives about 20% of the profits generated by the casino.
In a written statement to The Wall Street Journal, Bill Harriss – the Catawba Nation’s chief – has confirmed that a federal investigation was being held into the planned casino financial structure. Mr. Harris further noted that the tribe had been actively engaged in resolving federal officials’ concerns and had made certain corrections in line with those concerns.
The US Department of the Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission have looked closely at other tribal gaming compacts and raised similar concerns about tribal nations being the primary beneficiary of money derived from gaming activity.
Temporary Casino of Catawba Nation in North Carolina Remains Operational
The Native American Nation needed the 17 acres of North Carolina land in order to operate a casino because the state of South Carolina has still not allowed gambling. In late December 2021, President Joe Biden signed a defense bill into law in which the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act was included.
The Catawba Nation has operated a temporary casino venue at the place that is supposed to host the planned casino resort for more than a year. The facility started operation on July 1st, 2021 and, at the time, the gaming operator partner of the Catawba Nation – Delaware North – shared expectations that the construction of the full resort would take about a year.
A total of 500 machines were available at the temporary casino venue at the time it opened doors, with a later expansion in the fall of 2021 seeing the number of games available there double. The expanded venue opened in December 2021 and included electronic table games.
According to preliminary statements of tribal leaders, the permanent Two Kings Casino is expected to create up to 2,600 permanent jobs, as well as thousands of temporary jobs during the construction process. The long-awaited casino venue is expected to host approximately 1,800 gaming machines at the time it starts operation.