On the same day a bill that would allow North Carolina’s only casino to offer live dealer card games was introduced to the state’s Senate, it was passed by the legislative body by a vote of 33 – 14. The bill will now move to North Carolina’s House of Representatives. If the measure is passed by the House, the bill will affirm changes to a gambling compact that were agreed upon by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and North Carolina’s Governor, Beverly Perdue, late last year.
Owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and managed by Caesars Entertainment, the Harrah’s Cherokee currently offers electronic versions of card games such as poker and Blackjack. If the casino is allowed to offer live dealer games, it is estimated that 400 new jobs will be created in a mountainous area of North Carolina that has seen an unemployment rate above 20 percent as recently as three decades ago.
In addition to creating jobs in the immediate vicinity around the Harrah’s Cherokee, which is located near the border North Carolina shares with neighboring Tennessee, the bill would allow the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to open as many as four satellite gaming establishments on other parts of the group’s reservation.
The bill is also expected to enable the Harrah’s Cherokee to generate more revenue overall which is desirable for the casino’s owners since a percentage of the establishment’s revenue is distributed among members of the Cherokee tribe. The bill will require the Harrah’s Cherokee to share some of the revenue it generates from live dealer games with the state of North Carolina, however, to preserve its exclusive right to offer table games in the state.
At the start of the 30-year deal, the state of North Carolina is expected to receive 4 percent of the revenue generated by the Harrah’s Cherokee. North Carolina’s share of the establishment’s revenue will increase to 8 percent during the lifetime of the deal the bill outlines. North Carolina intends to factor the additional revenue into its education budget.