Gov. Bev Perdue signed an agreement yesterday allowing Las Vegas-style card dealers and table games at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, owned by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. The casino was previously limited to to electronic gaming by the state.
Still, lawmakers must back the deal and its changes to North Carolina’s gambling law. House and Senate leaders have said they would support the deal.
Adding live card dealers will generate an estimated 400 new jobs at the casino with a $15.2 million payroll, the Citizen-Times reported. Under the 30-year gaming compact, the casino will pay the state a portion of revenues from the new table games starting at 4 percent for the first five years and increasing to 8 percent for the last five years. Perdue said the money will go to education.
After pushing to get card dealers for two terms, or eight years, Principal Chief Michell Hicks said the approval was "a burden lifted" and would be an economic benefit to the Tribe and Western North Carolina. “It’s just been sitting there for a long time, so it feels great know we have finally pushed the ball to a new level,” he told the Citizen-Times.
According to a recent University of North Carolina study, Harrah's Cherokee is currently worth $380 million to the economy, and that amount is expected to increase once table games are added. It accounts for 8 percent of all wages and 5 percent of all jobs in the two-county area surrounding the Cherokee Indian Reservation.