Plans for a casino offering Las Vegas-style gambling in Charlotte NC are moving forward. These plans are anything but new. The project has been on and off going back a number of years. The current effort is looking to break ground in the coming days.
The central group behind the Charlotte casino is the Catawba Indian Tribe. The $300 million casino will be located around 30 miles from Charlotte in Kings Mountain. Allegedly, a tribal spokesperson confirmed the ground breaking for Wednesday, July 22.
The timeframe for completion is aggressive. Opening is planned for late spring or early summer next year. The released statement by Catawba Chief Bill Harris was:
“The Catawba Nation is excited to get this long awaited project moving forward. The project will have a huge impact on the Cleveland County region. Bringing much needed jobs as well as on the future of the Catawba Nation.”
Part of the delay has been litigation. The Eastern Band of Cherokees operate their own casinos in the western region of North Carolina. They filed a lawsuit against this casino project. The groundbreaking will still take place even though the case is still active.
The Catawba Nation is based in South Carolina. That state still prohibits Las Vegas-style casino gambling. This forced the tribe to turn northward to pursue their plans. This whole process goes back at least seven years.
Back in March, the federal government gave its approval to move forward. The tribe purchased 16 acres of land in Cleveland County near Interstate 85. The US Interior Department put the land into a trust. This designation implies the right to own and operate a casino at that site. Chief Harris described this decision as “a righting of a wrong.”
A long-standing feud between the two Carolina’s tribes has involved land rights.
The Cherokees involvement in North Carolina operating casinos goes back to 1997. That tribe called the Catawba’s recent effort a “modern-day land grab.”
The Catawba Nation points to a provision of a 1993 agreement. This gave the tribe federal recognition. Thus, this gives them a right to the land. It is also agued that this agreement gave the Catawba’s a service area in the state. This area encompasses six North Carolina counties. That area includes Mecklenburg and Cleveland counties.
Tribe members who reside in those counties are eligible for the same federal benefits afforded to members on the reservation. That is the main basis behind their claim to the state’s lands in this area.
Once the land was put into a trust back in March, the Cherokees countered with their lawsuit. A federal judge ruled against the Cherokees. The ruling states there was no “irreparable harm” in the government’s approval. Judge James Boasberg rendered the decision. He also cited that the Catawba Nation is faced with “significant economic challenges” in the current environment. Finally, US congress passes the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act.
• Source: Vegas coming to Charlotte area: Catawbas plan casino groundbreaking for Wednesday From Charlotteobserver.com On July 17, 2020.