The Catawba Nation has announced its intention to withdraw from an agreement with Sky Boat Gaming, citing a number of complications. Sky Boat Gaming is reportedly insisting on a one-off $125 million payout and an additional annual payment of $6 million for access to land used for parking at the Catawba Two Kings Casino in order to exit the deal, which the tribe has deemed as “exorbitant.”
Currently operating in Kings Mountain, North Carolina from a provisional location comprised of trailers, Catawba Two Kings Casino has been operational since 2021. However, plans for constructing a more permanent facility have been obstructed by a sequence of regulatory disputes.
In December 2022, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) delivered a Notice of Violation to the Catawba Nation, Kings Mountain Sky Boat partners, and the owners of Sky Boat. The NIGC’s investigation revealed various infringements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and other federal regulations. Specifically, the commission found that Sky Boat had been allowed to supervise part of the expansion of the Catawba Two Kings Casino without an approved management contract.
The Catawba Nation stated that it has attempted to sever relations with Sky Boat through negotiations over trust lands allocated for casino development. According to the Nation, parking lot land was obtained by Sky Boat Gaming simultaneously as it was securing the trust for the Catawba Nation, a scenario described by Catawba Chief Brian Harris as an attempt by Sky Boat to profiteer at the Catawba Nation’s expense. The tribe accused Sky Boat in a public statement of keeping the casino project “captive.”
The tribe’s gaming operations comply with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and are fully approved by a company sanctioned by the NIGC. The Catawba Nation has been planning a $700 million permanent casino resort project at the Kings Mountain site, located off Interstate 85 and Dixon School Road, since the groundbreaking commenced.
Freshly elected Catawba Nation leader, Chief Brian Harris, stated he believes securing the land would satisfy NIGC casino ownership conditions. He acknowledged that the casino opened against regulations, adding that Sky Boat and the Catawba’s previous administration were fully aware and had deliberately procrastinated until they received the Notice of Violation.
Chief Harris stressed that while they don’t contest Sky Boat’s claim to something, they have not received sufficient supporting documents to verify this. He affirmed the tribe’s intention to continue with the casino project independently, patiently targeting a fair deal and proper conduct. Sky Boat Gaming has been contacted for comment and is yet to respond.