KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Just following along with the employees at the Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain, you can see just exactly how busy it is.
When FOX 46 got a look inside, it had just opened, and it was already packed.
“I won $56,” Julie Henson of Gastonia said.
There’s a lot of movement, and a lot of people for what was, even earlier this year, a bit of a dream.
“I didn’t know people would wait in line for anything,” Chief Bill Harris of the Catawba Indian Nation said. “Now, they’re waiting on the interstate to get here.”
Harris knows the benefit that can come from seeing a packed parking lot and a line outside the door. For him, it means a benefit to his tribe, which will see more investment into infrastructure, education, and medical care in the coming years, and it starts with a series of trailers located off Dixon School Road, pulled together to form one large room of slot machines.
“The exterior is going to be all, ‘well, I don’t know,’ but when they walk through the door, they’ll get that full casino experience,” Harris said.
It wasn’t too long ago that the land now occupied by the casino, just off Interstate-85 in Kings Mountain, was nothing but woods.
Now, it’s part of a continuing construction project that will eventually include a resort.
The Catawba Indian Nation had wanted to launch with a bigger casino, but officials said the construction had been held up in regulatory paperwork. The 500-slot temporary facility, which opened Thursday, required less paperwork and was approved.
Harris said plans to start construction of more permanent buildings will begin later this year.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, with two casinos in the mountains, have filed court motions and appeals to end the Catawba project, calling it an “illegal land grab.”
The project, however, has moved forward, leading to Thursday’s opening.