Despite opposition by Governor Pat McCrory and other North Carolina officials, The Catawba Indian Nation is moving forward with the planning for development of their Kings Mountain casino project, and seeking out a partnership with an established and nationally recognized brand name.

Bill Harris, Catawba Chief has said that his tribe is in discussions with Hard Rock International. Purchased by Florida’s Seminole tribe in 2006, the Hard Rock brand is considered the “gold standard” for tribal gaming operations. Harris perceives that partnering with Hard Rock could provide the Catawba tribal development some much needed political and economic leverage.

Partnering with established gaming operations would assist the King’s Mountain project by providing well-established requisite regulatory structure. The Catawba Nation agreed in 1993 not to place itself under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act instituted by the National Indian Gaming Commission that normally provides regulatory guidelines for Native tribal gaming and casinos.

The only other casino in North Carolina is Harrah’s Cherokee, operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It is interesting to note that N.C.’s Cherokee tribe have made political contributions to many of the state’s politicians, both republican and democrat, including Gov. McCrory.

When asked for a statement, spokespersons for both Hard Rock International and Sky Boat LLC, Catawba’s development partner declined to comment at this time.