About 150 players recently attended the grand opening of the Catawba Indian Nation’s bingo hall in a former Bi-Lo grocery store in Rock Hill, North Carolina. It was the first time the Catawbas have offered bingo since 2006, when their Nations in Rock Hill bingo hall shut down amid allegations of money mismanagement, tax issues and competition from the state’s education lottery. At the opening, Catawba Chief Bill Harris said, “Can you feel the positive energy in the room? I can only feel good about this. It’s been a long time coming.”
A 1993 land settlement with state and federal government allows the tribe to offer two high-stakes bingo operations, one in York County, but not casino gambling. The tribe is considering its legal options regarding a casino in light of the state Supreme Court’s ruling that the state ban on video poker machines does apply to the tribe’s reservation.
There is no admission charge to the hall, which can accommodate 1,300 players. The space underwent a $365,000 renovation. Currently the bingo hall employs 15 tribal members. Smoking is prohibited and the hall does not sell alcohol. Players must be 18 years of age or older.
Payouts range from $499 to $3,500. “High-stakes” bingo will feature jackpots up to $100,000. High payoffs would be “pre-sold before they happen,” Harris has said. Players can rent electronic machines or purchase paper bingo cards.