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Saturday, August 13, 2022
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Kings Mountain casino’s surprise winners

The Wall Street Journal broke a story yesterday describing how some people with influential connections to major national political leaders received small equity interests in a company affiliated with the Catawba Indian Nation’s Kings Mountain casino.

Those named in the story include:

– John Clyburn, a brother of South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, a Democrat who introduced the bill in Congress that led to the opening of Catawba Two Kings Casino.

Michael Haley, the husband of former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.

Patti Solis Doyle, a Democratic political operative in Washington D.C. who helped manage Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Each is receiving periodic dividends that collectively amount to several thousand dollars.

John Clyburn, Michael Haley and Solis advised the Catawbas on the project, which had been discussed for many years before coming to fruition when a temporary casino opened in July 2021. Plans for a permanent structure are pending as Washington D.C. Indian gaming regulators study the project’s financial structure, the Journal said.

James Clyburn told the paper he didn’t discuss the project with his brother. Nikki Haley and Doyle said they never advocated for the project.

Those named in the story own a tiny fraction of Kings Mountain Equipment Supply, which supplies slot machines to the casino. The Journal said ”several former N.C. politicians who supported the casino while in office or their relatives” also owned stakes in the company.” They were not named.

The casino’s main outside developer is Greenville, South Carolina investor Wallace Cheves. The operator is Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North, which operates about 10 U.S. casinos.

Congress’ approval of the Catawbas’ casino enraged the much larger Eastern Band of Cherokee, which had run North Carolina’s only casinos in Cherokee and Murphy. They have said the new competition could cut their revenue by $100 million annually.

Here’s an August 2021 Business North Carolina story about the casino.

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