Catawba Two Kings Casino has hit another complication in the development of its permanent facility. This adds a new chapter to its delay-riddled history alongside developer Kings Mountain Sky Boat Partners, LLC (Sky Boat).
This most recent setback is on top of the initial stoppage originating in December 2022. The first interruption came after the North Carolina casino received a federal notice of violation. The violation was for giving Sky River a management role without an approved management contract.
Nearly two years later, Catawba Nation wants out of the deal. It could cost them millions of dollars to break ties with Sky Boat. That would also leave the project without a developer, leading to more delays.
On July 1, 2021, Catawba Two Kings opened a temporary facility. The temporary casino contains 1,000 slot machines and a retail sportsbook. It is one of three casinos in North Carolina.
A nine-figure asking price for Catawba casino
Plans for the permanent and expanded Catawba Two Kings Casino include:
– 3,000 slot machines.
– 120 table games.
– a 400-room hotel.
– multiple restaurants.
Earlier this year, Sky Boat’s owner, Wallace Cheves, set the buyout price at $125 million. Cheeves was instrumental in helping the Catawba secure land and obtain its North Carolina tribal casino license. The tribe initially agreed to the terms.
Additionally, the tribe faces a $6 million annual leasing fee for the nine-acre parking lot adjacent to the casino’s 17-acre property. Sky Boat subleases the parking lot from Kings Mountain Land Development Partners, LLC, also owned by Cheeves.
“Sky Boat is holding hostage this casino resort project and all of the economic and quality-of-life benefits for our people and residents of the area,” said Harris in a press release shared on Facebook. “We need a fair deal so we can realize the full financial benefits of the project, create 2,600 permanent jobs and hundreds of construction jobs, and provide local governments and the state of North Carolina with tax revenue and other investments under our compact.”
Local businesses await permanent Catawba Two Kings casino
Since opening in 2021, the temporary casino has provided an additional revenue stream to the tribe and its surrounding neighborhoods. However, it’s a fraction of what the larger, permanent building will bring.
Linda Bracket, owner of Carlina Crossing Restaurant in nearby Grover, said business has grown by 25-to-30% recently from casino goers and construction workers for the new development. Grover is six miles south of the casino site on I-85 at the South Carolina border.
With little else in the area to attract customers, Bracket said she hopes for another 30% growth when the casino in North Carolina opens. Other towns along the 30-minute drive between Charlotte and Catawba Two Kings Casino will also benefit from the new property.
Catawba chief says project will begin in early to mid-2024
Despite the developer dilemma, Chief Harris said construction will begin on the new casino in the first half of 2024 and will take two to three years to complete.
The tribe has made progress on the new casino with necessary infrastructure projects. It announced in May that it had funding projects to build new sewer lines and double the width of the Dixon School Road Bridge over I-85 near the entrance.
This news represents another step forward from the May announcements, which had no timetable for the casino’s groundbreaking. Construction has been indefinitely on hold since December 2022, since the National Indian Gaming Commission issued its notice of violation.
Had construction begun on time, Catawba Two Kings’ permanent casino would open in 2024 or 2025. Now, it’s delayed until 2026 or 2027.