Catawbas break ground on $300M Vegas-like casino in Kings Mountain

KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. — A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday morning for a new Vegas-style casino in Kings Mountain.

The Catawba Indians broke ground on a $273 million casino about 35 miles from Charlotte. The Catawbas plan to open the casino by spring next year. Construction will begin Thursday.

The South Carolina-based tribe has been trying for several years to build a casino in North Carolina.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which runs casinos in western North Carolina, filed a lawsuit to stop the project, claiming a South Carolina tribe shouldn't be given that land.

“So much has been said about the Catawbas,” Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler said. “It’s just a South Carolina tribe. Guys, how in the world can it be just a South Carolina tribe when there were no state lines?”

A federal court denied a motion by the Cherokees to stop the government from giving the land to the Catawbas, but the lawsuit is ongoing. The Catawbas say they can finally move ahead.

The project, which is a dozen years in the making, is expected to bring 2,600 permanent jobs, as well as roughly 5,000 construction jobs.

The Catawbas said the area where the casino will be built is their ancestral land, and the action by the federal government to put these 16 acres in trust for them rights a great wrong.

“We celebrate what a tribal government and a local and state government can achieve when they come together and treat each other equally,” Catawba Indian Nation Chief Bill Harris said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

There is also still an agreement between the tribe and the state that must be approved to allow high-stakes gambling, slot machines and table games. That deal has not been reached yet