Live gambling at Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee passes key legislative hurdle

In a 66-49 vote, the North Carolina House passed a bill that puts live, Vegas-style gambling one step closer at Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee, several media sources report. In preparation for final approval, Harrah’s is already gearing up to hire the 400-plus employees needed to introduce live card games to the facility, which already employs about 1,800, sources tell Xpress.

As amended by House representatives, the bill (SB 582) would also allow the Cherokee to have up to there more casinos on tribal lands. The agreement signed by Gov. Perdue last fall left the potential number of casinos unspecified; the Senate version limited it to five.

The Raleigh News&Observer reports that the controversy and debate in the House involved “an unusual coalition of socially conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats aligned against it.”

From the Raleigh News&Observer

The agreement would permit the tribe to offer live-dealer games, ranging from blackjack to roulette, at its existing Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and two new facilities being planned in the next 10 years for other tribal lands in a five-county area west of Interstate 26. The state will receive a small percentage of the revenues from the new games, an average $2 million to $3 million a year, with the initial funds going toward education.

Supporters downplayed the gaming expansion and touted the potential economic development, citing a tribe-sponsored study projecting 400 new jobs and millions in additional investment from new casinos that will attract more tourists to the area. …

Read more here:

From the Associated Press,
as reported by the Asheville Citizen-Times


The 30-year compact could generate $90 million to the state and school districts that for now will receive the proceeds for classroom personnel and materials. …

Two-thirds of the chamber’s 52 Democrats joined 30 Republicans in voting for the bill, which will receive another round of debate and proposed amendments next week before returning to the Senate. …

Most casino jobs go to people who aren’t Cherokee members. Tribal members also receive annual payments from casino profits.

“We have to decide what’s the moral issue here,” [Rep.] Hager said. “I choose to put them to work.”

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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