Catawba Indians declared victor in NC casino court fight, clearing way for construction

Joe Marusak
·2 min read

The Catawba Indian Nation said a federal court has ruled in its favor in a lawsuit that tried to stop its planned North Carolina casino.

In a Facebook post Friday evening, tribal leaders said they “were excited to announce” that they’d “just received word” of the court victory.

The lawsuit brought by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was the final major hurdle to the Catawbas’ opening their $273 million Two Kings Casino Resort off Interstate 85 in Kings Mountain, tribal leaders have said.

The casino is scheduled to open with a temporary facility this fall at the site, about 30 miles west of Charlotte.

The judge said he found no basis for the Cherokees’ claims in the lawsuit filed in March 2020 against the federal Department of Interior, The Associated Press reported.

The Cherokees sued after the department approved the tribe’s application to take the Kings Mountain land into trust.

On Facebook Friday, the Catawbas, based in Rock Hill, S.C., said they “intervened in the case to uphold our rights.”

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians owns the only other casinos permitted by the state, both in the N.C. mountains.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino operates west of Asheville, near Maggie Valley about three hours west of Charlotte. Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino is a four-hour drive from Charlotte near Georgia and Tennessee.

In January, Gov. Roy Cooper and the Catawba Indian Nation signed a revenue-sharing agreement that cleared the way for Vegas-style gaming to be offered at a planned resort in Kings Mountain.

The Cherokees in part argued that historically the land was theirs and the federal department violated U.S. law in granting the land trust for the Catawbas.

In Friday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg disagreed.

“In the end, though, they come up with snake eyes, as on each claim they either lack standing or lose on the merits,” the judge wrote in his 55-page opinion, according to the AP. He is based in Washington, D.C.

The Catawbas have said they were proceeding with their plans for the temporary facility despite the lawsuit.