According to series of letters sent to the tribe last August and made public by local news agencies, the state wants a larger cut not only of new games, but also from the existing video gambling machines. The Eastern Band has been working on a new gambling compact since 2006, but in recent months, the negotiations have introduced new elements, including increasing the state’s take of gambling revenue as a way to balance state budget deficit. However, Eastern Band Attorney General Annette Tarnawsky said last week that the tribe would only consider sharing revenue from new games, and added the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act would not allow the tribe to share non gambling revenue.
Under the current agreement, the North Carolina’s allows the Eastern Band to offer video poker and digital table games with dealers but no live card dealers are permitted. For Principal Chief Michell Hicks, who recently won a third therm as the tribe’s top elected leader, the gambling amendment would not only benefit the tribe, but also the entire community.
Harrah’s Cherokee is one of the largest private employers in North Carolina, generating 8% of all wages and 5 % of all jobs in the two-county area that surrounds the Cherokee Indian Reservation. The tribe said bringing card games would create about 400 new jobs and approximately $15.2 million salaries.
Principal Chief Hicks and Perdue now must speed up negotiations and agree to the terms of the compact under the federal law that regulates Indian-run casinos As reported on several news sites and journals, state leaders would have the final on what games would be allowed or rejected, and would lift an existing gambling restriction that would allow future casinos within the state. For its part, the Eastern Band would get live card & table games such as blackjack and roulette, plus millions of dollars in additional profits, as well as the state permission to build casinos everywhere on the Cherokee Indian Reservation and offer straight-up slot machines. Tribal Council will have to approve to the compact.