Tribal Council approves plan for Cherokee County casino

New facility could bring 800 jobs

By Joseph Martin
Thursday, April 11, 2013 1:20 PM CDT

Cherokee - The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council voted almost unanimously Thursday morning to approve a casino to be located on the Palmer tract of land behind Snap-on, just outside of the Murphy town limits. In an 11-1 vote, Painttown Rep. Terri Henry, who wanted the issue to go to a referendum vote, was the lone vote cast in opposition.

Cherokee County/Snowbird Rep. Diamond Brown said he worked to get a commitment from the state to build a bridge over the Valley River to access the Palmer tract from U.S. 74. The tribe does have such a commitment, he said.

"Now we can go and start putting it up on that property," Brown said. Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise board members, in a push to place a gaming property in Cherokee County, have argued the location would be close to one of its biggest feeder markets in Atlanta. It also would increase revenue for the tribe and per capita payments to tribal members.

Most who wanted to see a casino in the county have argued the need for jobs. Cherokee County has endured high unemployment rates for the past five years, and the area has seen an economic decline over several years after manufacturing plants started closing.

"We need jobs for our people," Brown said. While he said nothing is 100 percent guaranteed, with casinos, "You can just about guarantee it's going to make money."New Cherokee Tribe Casino near Andrews NC ?

Cherokee County focus for casino after live dealers approved
Casino could create up to 1,000 local jobs

By DWIGHT OTWELL - Cherokee Scout, Murphy NC
Thursday, June 7, 2012 2:23 PM CDT

Raleigh After the N.C. General Assembly approved legislation Wednesday that will allow live dealers at Harrah's Cherokee Casino, the tribe is focusing attention on bringing a casino to Cherokee County.

"We have had a number of folks out there [Cherokee County] several times in the last month or so looking at land," said Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

They are looking at land in Marble that the tribe purchased, although there are still some issues with trust land, Hicks said Thursday.

"Cherokee County is our first [priority] on expansion," he said.

The new 30-year compact allows the tribe to have up to three casinos, including the existing one on the Qualla Boundary. The tribe will have exclusive live table gaming rights west of Interstate 26.

A Class III facility that would be smaller than the casino in Cherokee, but basically have the same types of gambling, including live dealers, is the obvious choice, Hicks said.

Adam Wachacha, who holds one of the two tribal seats for the Snowbird/Cherokee County area, said the change to live dealers is estimated to bring 400 jobs to Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel. They have talked to the casino general manager and asked him to be ready for the July 4 weekend with live dealers. The U.S. Department of the Interior must still approve the measure.

Wachacha said they have been talking about what type of building they will have in Cherokee County. They expect a local casino to attract people from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Atlanta.

The land issue is still in negotiation with families trying to decide whether to sell trust land where a casino must be located.

"We could create 1,000 jobs in the next year if we build [a casino] in Cherokee County," Wachacha said. "Tribal Gaming Enterprise is talking about trying to do something in the next few months and by next year for sure."

The state will get a share of revenue from live gaming for education for classroom teachers, teacher assistants, classroom materials or supplies or textbooks. The state's share of revenue will range from 4 to 8 percent.

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New Cherokee casino near Andrews, Cherokee County NC