Amid online sports betting debate

Catawbas' Two Kings Casino to debut North Carolina's third retail sportsbook reportedly ahead of NFL

Interior of the Two Kings Casino's temporary venue in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.
Reading time 1:58 min

A third sports betting facility is set to join the in-person gaming landscape in North Carolina. The Catawba Nation-owned Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain is set to open its sportsbook this fall, making a debut before the start of the football season.

The news was confirmed by Delaware North spokesman Glen White to WRAL News on Friday. The gaming operator has been consulting on the project since at least 2020. The Catawba Nation currently operates Two Kings in a temporary facility located off Interstate 85, as the tribe plans its permanent casino resort 35 miles west of Charlotte.

With the first college football games to begin on August 27, and the NFL kicking off on September 8, the sportsbook aims to make its debut ahead of the season. Additional details regarding the exact date of opening and the amenity’s features are yet to be released.

The upcoming sportsbook would join existing retail sports gaming offerings at two casinos the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians runs on their land in far-western North Carolina. The Harrah's-branded casinos opened their books in March 2021.

The temporary Two Kings Casino opened its doors July last year

The news comes as North Carolina lawmakers debate expanding sports gambling to online and mobile channels during the last days of the current legislative session, which ends on June 30. The legalization effort stalled last week in the state House with the future of the push now uncertain.

Two bills, working in tandem, would have allowed the state to license at least 10 and up to 12 mobile wagering operators in the state to begin taking bets after January 1, 2023. While the House gave preliminary approval to one of the bills on a 51-50 vote, the other one was voted down on a 50-51 vote.

Sports betting supporters need to win over only one vote in order for legislation to be greenlighted, meaning passage is still possible with just three days to go. Backers of the proposal could attempt making some changes to that end, or wait until after this year's elections for another go. “In conversations with the governor’s staff, if he does not receive both bills, then he won’t sign them into law,” Rep. Jason Saine said.

Under the proposed legislation, federally recognized Indian tribes authorized to have casino-style games under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act are guaranteed approval as licensed interactive sports wagering operators. The Cherokee and the Catawba, the only tribes with such agreements in the state in place, can apply for online licenses, but those wouldn’t count toward the total number of operators in North Carolina.

In-person sports wagering and betting on horse races at gaming facilities on tribal land was approved in 2019. A bill to that end received overwhelming support at the time, passing 43-7 in the Senate and 90-27 in the House, and afterward was signed into law by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

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