Cherokee leaders opened a small casino in the 1990’s but were forced to get rid of all games except bingo. Several years later, the tribe leaders signed an agreement with Governor Jim Hunt to allow electronic games at the North Carolina casino. According to the terms of the compact, electronic games must be games of skill and are required to return a minimum of 83% and a maximum of 98%. Currently, every game offered by Harrah’s Cherokee is electronic.
Negotiations for live dealers and table games stalled last year when a video poker company brought suit against the state claiming the governor had no legal right to negotiate a gamin g expansion with the tribe.
More recently, Phil Berger (R-Guilford, Rockingham), the President Pro Tempore in the State Senate, and Tom Apodaca (R-Buncombe, Henderson, Polk), visited the facility and told tribe leaders there are enough votes in the North Carolina State Senate to approve the ratified amendment.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is the only federally recognized tribe, which gives them the exclusive right to operate a casino under federal law. The tribe previously declared that bringing live games of poker, craps and blackjack would help the facility to compete with neighboring casinos.
The tribe also reminded authorities the 1,100-room Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel is one of the most significant employers and tax contributors in North Carolina, and added that bringing live table games could create 430 jobs and generate more than $15 million in revenue.