Nation | Tribe: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
777 Casino Drive
Cherokee, NC 28719
Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort opened November 13, 1997. It lies on a 56-acre property located 50 miles SW of Asheville at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A $650 million construction project was completed in July 2012. It expanded the casino floor and added a 3rd hotel tower, luxury spa, a 3,000-seat Events center, new parking garages and food and retail outlets.
In 2017 Harrah's announced plans to add a fourth hotel tower, a convention center, an entertainment center and a parking deck. The entertainment center named Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center opened in August 2017. The hotel tower, conference center and parking garage opened in October 2021.
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150,000 square foot casino
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3,500 slot machines
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The Book - Sportsbook
Ruth's Chris Steak House
BRIO Tuscan Grille
Guy Fieri's Cherokee Kitchen + Bar
Selu Garden Cafe
Wicked Weed Brewpub
Quick Food Venues
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Wicked Weed Brewpub
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Opened in August 2017
$13 million, 50,000-sq-ft, two-story building adjacent to the casino
1st Floor: 16 bowling lanes, a food and beverage outlet, and an arcade area.
2nd Floor: 8 bowling lanes, a bar, and a food area.
Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort is the largest hotel in North Carolina.
There are four hotel towers with a total of 1,833 guest rooms and suites.
The Cherokee Tower (opened 2021)
The convention center was opened in October 2021 as part of a $330 million expansion project. This is a three-level facility with 83,000 square feet including a 32,000-square-foot ballroom, an exhibition hall and 26 meeting rooms.
December 16, 2021
The Tribal Council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians passed an ordinance last week to significantly limit smoking at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River in Murphy.
Ord. No. 3 (2021) was approved by a 7-4 vote to maintain 100% smoke-free casino operations. Smoking areas can only be available at significant distances from gambling areas.
The Cherokee legislation states:
"A designated 'smoking area' must be sufficiently removed from Tribal casino gaming operations so that smoke does not migrate into an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited pursuant to this Part."
- Cherokee Code Sec. 130-3503
The Cherokee casinos have been smoke-free since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is confident this policy change will not affect the continued success of its two casino operations.
Over 1,000 commercial and tribal casinos across our nation currently offer smoke-free gaming. Last month the Navajo Nation became the latest tribe to ban smoking ban in its casinos and public buildings.
October 10, 2021
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians held a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 1 at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort to celebrate the grand opening of its its new $300 million hotel tower and convention center.
The new hotel tower is named The Cherokee and features 725 guest rooms and 7 suites. This is the fourth tower at the hotel.
The Cherokee Convention Center is an 83,000-square-foot structure with 3 levels. It includes a huge ballroom, a pre-function ballroom, an exhibition hall and 26 meeting rooms.
The expansion project also included the WSOP Poker Room, a 34-table poker room which opened in September 2020; The Book, a sportsbook which opened in March 2021; the Wicked Weed Brewpub, which opened in April; and the Myst Bar, which opened in January.
June 26, 2021
Harrah's Cherokee Casino is completing construction of a $250 million expansion project that began with a groundbreaking in June 2018. (See Story.) The new additions include a 19-story hotel tower and a convention center. Both will open this Fall 2021.
The new hotel tower will add 775 guest rooms and 7 suites. The entrance area will include a 30-foot registration desk and a 50-seat lobby bar. The second floor will feature a terrace pool, a fitness center, and two 800-square foot hospitality suites.
The new convention center is a three-level expansion that will triple the size of the current convention space. It includes a 32,000 square-foot ballroom, a 11,100 sq ft pre-function area, and a 6,000 sq ft exhibition hall.
May 27, 2021
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has appealed last month's ruling by a federal judge to allow the Catawba Nation from South Carolina to proceed with construction of the Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.
The Cherokee filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. The U.S. Department of Interior is added as a defendant.
In March 2020 the U.S. Department of Interior approved the Kings Mountain casino project and agreed to transfer the casino site into federal trust for the Catawba Nation. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians immediately filed suit to stop the project.
In March 2021 the Cherokee lawsuit was rejected by the federal judge as having no basis for its claims.
Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Sneed said in a statement:
"The tribe believes the Interior Department violated law in authorizing the Catawba casino, and our appeal is simply the next step in the process to ensure that justice is done. The judge noted the complexity of the case and his ruling was 'a close call.'"
The Catawba Nation is building a temporary Two Kings Casino with 500 slot machines to operate during construction of the final casino. The temporary casino is expected to launch this summer.
March 19, 2021
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened "The Book" sports wagering venues yesterday inside their two casinos, Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC, and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy, NC. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held at both locations prior to the 10 AM openings.
"We are excited to offer legal sports betting at The Book, and just in time for March Madness," said Richard Sneed, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. March Madness kicked off yesterday.
Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort
The Book has reclining chairs and 90-foot wide big screen. Bets can be placed at seven ticket windows or 10 self-service betting kiosks.
Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel
The Book has a 32-foot UHD screen, four ticket windows and five self-service betting kiosks.
March 8, 2021
This week the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians received the final approval needed to open "The Book" sportsbook at each of their two North Carolina casinos. An opening date is expected soon but has not yet been announced.
The 2019 sports betting law grants exclusive wagering at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC and at Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Hotel & Casino and Murphy, NC. No other sports wagering is allowed in the state. All wagering is limited to in-person bets at these two casinos. Online wagering is prohibited.
The gaming compact between the tribe and the state was amended and signed last December adding sports betting to the agreement. The compact amendment was approved by the U.S. Department of Interior this week. That was the last government approval needed to authorize sports betting at the casino.
At this time, it is not known how quickly the Cherokee sportsbooks will launch. An announcement is expected soon.
December 20, 2020
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have been negotiating with Caesars Entertainment to purchase Caesars Southern Indiana Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana near Louisville, Kentucky.
On Dec. 17 the Tribal Council approved the purchase of the Indiana casino for $250 million. A purchase agreement will be signed later this month and the deal should close by the end of June.
The Cherokee tribe had signed a letter of intent with Caesars Entertainment on Nov. 12 to negotiate the purchase of the Indiana casino for $290 million with a 45-day exclusive window for due diligence before a final agreement.
Caesars Entertainment manages the tribe's two casinos in North Carolina under the Harrahs brand. After Caesars acquired Eldorado Resorts, the Indiana Gaming Commission ordered the sell of Caesars Southern Indiana Casino and two other properties as a condition for approving the acquisition.
December 9, 2020
After an excessively long delay, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a sports betting agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to allow sports betting at Harrah's Cherokee Casinos. The agreement had passed the General Assembly in July 2019 and sent to the governor's office on Oct. 14, 2019.
The Book is the name of the sports betting centers at both of Harrah's Cherokee Casinos. Opening dates will be announced in the near future.
Rendering of The Book at harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort
This state-tribe agreement has been approved by the Tribal Council. The final approval is pending with the Bureau of Indian Affairs inside the U.S. Department of Interior.
December 2, 2020
Last month the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council approved a measure to create a limited liability corporation for the purpose of acquiring commercial casinos.
The measure reads:
"The overarching goal of such opportunities will be to build profitable companies that will expand the breadth and depth of the Tribe's revenue sources, and by those actions, increase the financial security of the Tribe for the benefit of its members."
Recently the Tribe has encountered and opposed two new casino development projects located within driving distance that could negatively impact future gaming revenues.
In Virginia, the Hard Rock Casino Bristol received voter approval in last month's election. This casino is expected to open in Spring 2022. At Kings Mountain, NC, the Catawba Indian Nation has begun construction of the Two Kings Casino Resort, which is epected to open in Spring 2021.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians currently owns two casinos. Both are branded as Harrah's and operated by Caesar's Entertainment. Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort is located in Cherokee, NC and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Hotel & Casino is in Murphy, NC.
As the casino competition nears, the Tribe intends to maintain healthcare, education and housing programs with new revenues from gaming acquisitions. The Tribe is currently negotiating with Caesar's Entertainment to purchase Caesars Southern Indiana in Elizabeth, Indiana.
November 24, 2020
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is negotiating with Caesars Entertainment Inc. to purchase Caesars Southern Indiana casino and resort in Elizabeth, Indiana located across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky.
Caesars Southern Indiana generates the most income of the six southern Indiana casinos and ranks fifth in income among the state's 12 casinos. The property has a 93,000-square-foot casino with 1,200 slot machines and 103 table games. There is also a 503-room hotel, an 24,000-square-foot events center, and a golf course.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians signed a letter of intent with Caesars Entertainment on Nov. 12 and received an exclusive 45-day window to negotiate a purchase agreement for the casino.
Last July the Indiana Gaming Commission ordered Caesars to sell three of its five Indiana casinos by the end of the year as a condition for approving Caesars Entertainment's acquisition by Eldorado Resorts.
UPDATE Nov 29, 2020
The Indiana Gaming Commission voted this week to extend the deadline for Caesars Entertainment to sell Caesars Indiana South. The new deadline is Dec. 31, 2021. The extension is expected to remove the urgency for the current negotiations with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
November 23, 2020
For 25 years the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has owned the only casinos in North Carolina. However, this may change in the next few years as competition may come from the Catawba Indian Nation from South Carolina and the Lumbee Tribe in south central North Carolina.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians own Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, which opened in 1997, and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Hotel & Casino in Murphy, North Carolina, which opened in 2015.
Catawba Indian's Kings Mountain Casino
The U.S. Department of Interior approved this casino in March 2020. Last July the Catawba Indian Nation broke ground on a $300 million casino resort in Kings Mountain, NC. It is named "Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort"
The Catawba Indian Nation resides in South Carolina, however, it claims ancestral lands in North Carolina. Legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in October to support and defend this claim.
The Eastern Band of Cherokees oppose the casino as a "land grap" and have filed lawsuits to stop construction.
Federal recognition of Lumbee Tribe
The House of Representatives approved a bill supporting federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. The bill now goes to the Senate for approval where it has been introduced by Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.
Federal recognition of a tribe is the first step needed for building a tribal casino. At this time the Lumbee leaders have expressed no interest in a casino.
The Eastern Band of Cherokees fear this may change and oppose Lumbee recognition to prevent competition from a Lumbee casino in the future.
The Cherokee are calling on the Senate to defeat the Lumbee Recognition Act.
May 28, 2020
Both Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Hotel & Casino reopened today May 28. Both have been closed since May 18 when they were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Video courtesy of WLOS News 13.
November 12, 2019
Harrah's Cherokee Casinos are the official sponsor of the Carolina Panthers after signing a five-year partnership and sponsorship agreement.
The agreement gives Harrah's Cherokee Casinos the naming rights to the Panther's pregame venue, Champions Village, which will now be branded Harrah's Cherokee Champions Village.
The agreement also gives the casino the sponsorship of the 5th Quarter, the fan post-game party.
A new promotion is the Panthers Pick'em game played on the Panthers new mobile app. Harrah's Cherokee will provide prizes and weekend stays to winning players who correctly predict game plays.
Brooks Robinson, Regional Sr VP and GM for Harrah's Cherokee Casinos, commented on the new partnership: "We are excited to begin this partnership with the Carolina Panthers," said Robinson. "With opportunities that include naming rights to Champions Village, sponsoring the 5th Quarter and more we can be part of the game day experience for Panthers fans. That's exciting!"
July 26, 2019
Sports betting is now legal at the two tribal casinos owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee thanks to new legislation signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper today.
The two Cherokee casinos are:
Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort, Cherokee, NC 28719
Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Hotel & Casino, Murphy, NC 28906
All sports bets in North Carolina must be placed at these two casinos. There is no mobile betting.
June 26, 2018
Ground has been broken on the new expansion project at the Harrah's Cherokee Casino. The ceremony for the new $250 million project was held in the morning on Tuesday.
Attending the ground breaking were casino executives, officials, and Tribal Leaders.
Over 700 new hotel rooms will be added to the property. Meeting space will also add another 83,000 square feet. There will also be a new parking garage.
Originally, the casino resort offered over 1,100 guest rooms at the hotel and a gaming area of 150,000 square feet. There are also a number of dining options, bars, and shopping.
This $250 million expansion project is expected to be completed in 30 months.
This is one of several projects that the casino has working on. Recently the UltraStar Multi-tainment center was opened. The new venue offers an event stage, three bars, a restaurant with 200 seats, an arcade, and a bowling alley with 24 lanes.
An archaeological excavation was underway for several months before the ground breaking was held.
After the expansion is completed, 400 additional people will be employed. Many of them will be from Western North Carolina and surrounding areas.
Harrah's Cherokee Casino is owned by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The casino operates 150 table games, including craps, black jack, and roulette. There is also more than 3,600 slot machines. There are currently over 1,100 guest rooms at the hotel.
April 09, 2018
The new Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort retail center has released the project design renderings. Plans include a combination of shopping, entertainment, and restaurants.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians own the casino resort.
Online shopping has changed the way people shop. All over the country, this has really hurt the success of large box stores and shopping malls. However, the tribe's Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed believes this project will be unlike anything anywhere else.
Shops that are chosen will be those that are the best fit for the new complex. Most of the space will be reserved for entertainment options and restaurants. This will help keep convention guests interested enough to stay and eat on property. Other guests will be interested in what there is to offer as well.
Funding options for the project will still need to be decided. That decision will be made by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council. The Gordon Group is interested in helping the tribe finance the project. The group will also be in charge of deciding which retail stores will be accepted at the new shopping venue. The tribe would be responsible for paying for new infrastructure. This includes the building of a new parking garage.
Financial proposals have ranged from the Gordon Group funding half of the project. Where the tribe would fund the remaining half. To the entire project, except for the parking garage, by the Gordon Group.
However, the tribe already is aware that the higher percentage that the group pays for, the higher percentage of profit that they will want in return.
February 16, 2018
By the end of next month the ongoing work at the Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort archaeological site is scheduled to be completed. The site was discovered in the parking lot and has proven to be about four acres in size.
The site is made up of several villages. One of which is over 2,000 years old. Fire pits, shards of pottery, housing posts, and tools made of stone have been found.
A public building made with a basket weave pattern was also discovered. The size of the posts that were discovered for this building were very large. They believe that the building must have been very large as well to need such large posts.
The discovery of the site is very important for the EBCI tribal members. It has helped them learn more about their history.
31 structures have been discovered at the site. It is from a period of time of Cherokee history that is unique and has remained untouched and intact this entire time.
The site was first discovered in 1994 by Lance Green. It was then recorded with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. More study of the site was recommended before the land would be developed. It was believed that under the parking lot there were remnants of the the Woodland and Mississippian Periods based on testing that was done.
Construction for the casino was postponed in 1995 so that the second phase of the archeological site could be furthered explored. Test trenches were dug, and features were discovered that were still intact.
Additional time to further study the site was negotiated between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, state's historic preservation office, and the National Indian Gaming Commission.
After the second phase was completed there was enough evidence found that that casino was relocated to where it is currently.
The latest project is scheduled to end soon. Archaeologists that have been working hard to make sure that the project is finished in time.
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