The chief of South Carolina based Catawba Indian nation has confirmed that his tribe is negotiating with the Hard Rock brand for managing an upcoming casino in North Carolina.
Chief Bill Harris has requested the federal government for permission to purchase 16 acres of the Kings Mountain Boulevard at interchange I-85. Harris considers the Hard Rock brand as the “gold standard” for casinos.
Hard Rock is already operating two hotel and casino complexes in Florida for the Seminole tribe. Harris hopes to benefit from “from all the things they have already done.”
The tribe expressed the possibility of working with the brand during its economic development board meeting on Thursday. Hard Rock refused to comment on the negotiations.
South Carolina’s lawmakers have opposed the idea of a Catawba casino ever since the state’s settlement with the tribe in 1993. As part of the settlement, the nation agreed to not place itself under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Act regulates gaming operations on Indian lands.
The idea for a North Carolina based Catawba casino emerged couple of months ago. Gambling veteran, Darrell Hardin, broached the subject with Gaston County officials. There was skepticism whether the government would allow a Catawba casino in North Carolina or not.
North Carolina officials including governor, Pat McCrory, are against the casino.
Harris also said that the Catawbas are looking forward to working in partnerships with other Indian tribes. As part of the initiative, the tribe used Lumbee contractors to build its Rock Hill bingo hall in 2014.
The tribe is also talking to the Senecas of Western New York for building a new movie production studio in York Country on Catawba owned land.
Currently, there is only one Indian casino in North Carolina, Harrah’s Cherokee. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians runs the operations of the casino located close to the Tennessee border.
The proposed Catawba casino will have an estimated cost of $600 million. The tribe has submitted a land-into-trust application to The Bureau of Indian Affairs but is yet to hear back. The tribe also needs permission from the North Carolina government.
If the tribe moves forward with plans to build the 1.8-million square-foot facility, then it would need to employ over 4,000 people on the complex.
An editorial published in the Greensboro News & Record said that the planned Catawba casino “belongs in their state” of South Carolina.