The Catawba Two Kings Casino pre-launch facility in Kings Mountain, N.C., opened to the public on July 1 after Catawba Nation Chief Bill Harris cut a ceremonial ribbon with tribal, local and state government leaders, as well as leadership from Delaware North, the project’s consultant.
The 500-slot temporary facility was built in only four months using prefabricated modular structures on part of a 17-acre site just off Interstate 85, about 35 miles west of Charlotte. The facility, which will be open 24 hours daily, is providing an initial opportunity for patrons in the Charlotte region and beyond to game with limited food and beverage services and other guest amenities.
For the Catawba Nation, the opening represented the culmination of three decades seeking to finally benefit from the federal service area of six North Carolina counties, including Cleveland County, that it was assigned by Congress in 1993 to recognize the tribe’s aboriginal and historical ties to the state.
“Catawba Two Kings Casino represents the righting of a historical wrong for the Catawba Nation,” Chief Harris said. “But it is also so much more. It represents a prosperous future and renewed kinship between the Catawba Nation and the many communities that now occupy Catawba ancestral lands, including Kings Mountain, Cleveland County, and the State of North Carolina.
“For many of us, it represents a bright future – a future with more jobs and educational opportunities. We are thankful for the relationships that have been created in each community, for our partnerships with Delaware North and SkyBoat Gaming, and for the invaluable leadership that came from local officials in making this project a reality,” Harris said.
Also at the ribbon cutting were Catawba Assistant Chief Jason Harris, Catawba Council members and Catawba Gaming Commission officials.
“Delaware North is incredibly proud of our partnership with the Catawba Nation,” said Lou Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North, the project consultant, who spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Two Kings will be a world-class destination for hospitality and entertainment, as well as an enduring driver of economic opportunity for the region. We are grateful to everyone in Kings Mountain, Cleveland County and the state of North Carolina who helped to make today’s ribbon cutting possible.”
Jacobs was joined in cutting the ribbon by Brian Hansberry, president of Delaware North’s gaming division.
“I know I speak for CEO Lou Jacobs when I say we have an incredible team who have been putting in a lot of extra hours to reach this initial opening phase,” Hansberry said at the opening of a Wednesday evening preview event for community leaders. “Thank you to this team and everyone who has worked, and continues to work, on Two Kings.”
About 250 people, including a significant number of Catawba Nation members, are employed at the pre-launch facility. It also created construction jobs in the region, with more to come when construction begins on an introductory phase of the $273 million full casino resort.
“What an exciting day it is to finally get this entertainment complex open,” Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler said. “It brings so many positive aspects to our community — job creation, new housing opportunities, support for the Catawba Nation, and a significant economic impact to our community for years to come.”
Construction on the introductory phase – which will be part of the permanent casino and feature an additional 1,300 slot machines, restaurants and other amenities – is expected to begin by year’s end and will take about a year to complete. The full casino resort project is expected to create 2,600 permanent jobs at full buildout and thousands of construction jobs in the region.
“This new entertainment facility is another step in creating jobs and economic benefits by making Cleveland County a destination for people throughout the Charlotte region and beyond,” Cleveland County Commissioner Johnny Hutchins said. “We thank the Catawba Nation and its partners for seeing this through and look forward to the casino resort’s continued development.”
PHOTO CAPTION (above): Catawba Nation Chief Bill Harris (center) cuts the ceremonial ribbon yesterday with tribal, local and state government leaders on hand at the opening of the Catawba Two Kings Casino pre-launch facility in Kings Mountain, N.C., west of Charlotte. From left to right: Greg Smith, partner, Hobbs Strauss; Rod Beck, Catawba secretary and treasurer; Dwayne Rogers, Catawba Council member; Sam Beck, Catawba Council member; Kevin Monroe, director for intergovernmental affairs for Gov. Roy Cooper; Matthew Stewart, chairman, Catawba Nation Gaming Commission; Bill Harris, Catawba chief; Jason Harris, Catawba assistant chief; Johnny Hutchins, commissioner, Cleveland County; Wallace Cheves, owner, SkyBoat Gaming; Lou Jacobs, CEO, Delaware North; Brian Hansberry, president, Delaware North’s gaming division; Michael Ulizio, president, Catawba Nation Gaming Authority; Elizabeth Harris, Catawba tribal administrator.
PHOTO CAPTION (middle): Delaware North CEO Lou Jacobs delivered remarks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
PHOTO CAPTION (below): The gaming floor of the Catawba Two Kings Casino pre-launch facility features 500 gaming machines.