Kings Mountain Casino Update – Will It Close?

The saga continues at Kings Mountain Casino. We’re approaching soap opera status at this point. Catawba Nation Tribal Leader Bill Harris told tribal members in a letter that they are appealing the previous findings from the National Indian Gaming Commission.  The NIGC sent a Notice of Violation to the Catawba Indian Nation in November, concluding that the Nation broke federal laws by allowing a business called Sky Boat to have too much control over casino operations.

“We would urge the Catawba Nation to not assume the media has the story right,” the letter said. “We will defend the nation’s integrity and appeal the notice of violation, but we are working to settle it as there is actually little in dispute.”

So, the appeal is ongoing, and who knows how long that could take. All the while, the temporary casino in Kings Mountain is in limbo, and the plans for groundbreaking on the permanent site remain on hold. Is this thing ever going to get built?

Many tribal members are fed up. They met on the reservation east of Rock Hill, South Carolina to discuss the report and next steps. Bill Harris, who spearheaded the initiative to get Two Kings Casino approved, is stepping down later this year as the tribal leader. Two of his cousins, Jason Harris and Brian Harris, are running for election to the post. Jason, who’s been assistant chief for years, wants to enter into a settlement with Sky Boat and cut ties with the company as soon as possible. Brian Harris, a member of the tribe’s general council, opposes paying off Sky Boat.

William Harris, Catawba Nation Leader

Sky Boat just has too many shady things swirling around it. The Wall Street Journal reported last summer how many prominent South Carolina politicians had stakes in the company. Longstanding SC congressman Jim Clyburn’s brother, along with the husband of former governor Nikki Haley get a cut of the gambling profits from the casino. The Catawba Nation is seeking to get rid of Sky Boat and cut these folks out of the picture.

Sky Boat and its subsidiaries are controlled by Greenville businessman Wallace Cheves. Per agreements with the tribe, Sky Boat developed and managed the casino, leased the parking lot and the slot machines. The NIGC maintains that these agreements with Sky Boat did not have federal approval, and thus the arrangement is in violation of federal gaming laws. Hence, the Two Kings Casino is in a tough spot.

So, while all this hoopla is going on, the temporary Two Kings Casino is still open. However, it’s not quite as nice as some other options nearby, and who knows when the permanent casino and resort will get done. Check out our reviews of the casinos up and running right now in Cherokee, NC, Murphy, NC, and Bristol, VA.