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Its Second Casino to Boost Income, Claims North Carolina’s Cherokee Tribe

Published on September 11, 2015, 5:53 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

North Carolina’s Cherokee tribe is making claims that a second casino to be opened by it would help it surge its income as well as coagulate its control over the Southeast gamblers. This would happen even if the gambling industry reports a dawdling growth.

The new casino, whose name is Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino, is expected to launch on September 28 2015 in the western corner of the state. It would feature blackjack tables and slots, and would open near Atlanta from where a large number of visitors are likely to come. The $110 million gamble’s success centers on if the overall visits would increase or draw off business from the Cherokee resort that is around 60 miles to the northeast.

North Carolina runs only two casinos, the owner of which is this company that admits that the new Murphy casino might cannibalize some traffic. However, it equally claims that the casino would attract gamblers from nearby states on day trips. As compared to the industry all together, the gambling revenue of the tribe was augmenting faster. The company said that it was a hint that it could further grow.

Michell Hicks, Cherokee Indians’ outgoing principal chief
Michell Hicks, Cherokee Indians’ chief

According to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ outgoing principal chief, Michell Hicks, it was evident from research that the casino was likely to bring a surge in the market. Hicks added that the main aim was to grab more customers from Knoxville, Atlanta, and Chattanooga.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s case study, suggested that lack of Las Vegas-style casinos in Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina also favored the casino. A notable amount of traffic was supplied by each of them to the existing casino of Cherokee. Professor James Johnson Jr. affirmed that Tennessee and Georgia provided busloads of people. He believes that the new casino would bring a boost in the economic advantages for western North Carolina.

In the words of Hicks, almost 85% of resort employees were not tribe members. And the ratio was expected to touch around 900 jobs at the new location. Poverty rate of the neighboring country had reached around 18% recently.

Ever since the Great Recession, gambling had gone slow in terms of recovery. The reason being people reined in free time expenditure. In July, Investors Service of Moody said that the gambling industry showed stability signs following several months of reducing revenue. Nevertheless, it still faced many challenges.

The National Indian Gaming Commission said that less than 2% growth was realized in Indian gambling revenue the previous year, which was a bit less than that in 2013. This led to a slowdown in the introduction of any new Indian casinos. It is, thus, that just two casino openings in 2013 were listed by the latest Casino City Indian Gaming Industry Report.

An interview heard report author Alan Meister affirming that if there was more activity in recent past, it was the development of existing casinos.

On the other hand, the gambling revenue of the Eastern Band of Cherokees increased nearly by 16% in 2013, which overshadowed the tribal industry for many years.

The Eastern Band's gambling revenue surpassed $500 million in 2013, the tribe's first full year of offering blackjack and other table games and the year it opened a new hotel tower at the existing resort. The resort could already use help moving in sync with demand, according to Lumpy Lambert. Caesars Entertainment Inc.’s new Harrah's casino is to be managed by him.

The Cherokee Valley River of Harrah is expected to be around 33% of the existing resort, since it would include as many as 300 hotel rooms, 1,000 slots, and 70 table games. It would also own a food court and lounge, but there would not be any stand-alone restaurants.

Inside Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino
Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino near completion

Reduced number of facilities were an indication that insurance industry retiree Susan Page, 70, of Conyers, Georgia would continue to make trips to the existing resort every month. This is despite the fact that Murphy was some 30 miles closer, although, it was likely to have fewer options for Page.

Page said that it was smaller and had lesser facilities.

On the contrary, Hicks believed that it was a wonderful opportunity to boost the financial foundation of the tribe. Hicks has been the chief for 12 years and has supervised the casino expansion, which let the tribe bring improvement in its schools as well as construct a hospital. He even repaid the money scrounged for building projects.

He added that almost every member of the 15,000 members of the Eastern Band was eligible for an annual payment, which had reached around $10,000. And people were likely to look back and admire the foundation even after 25 years from now.


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