State legislators deal Harrah’s Casino winning hand

Live table games at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino cleared its final hurdle this week with passage in the N.C. House of Representatives.

Both the Governor and N.C. Senate had already given live table games their blessing, and only lacked approval from the House.

As of press time Tuesday, the exact break down of the final vote in the House was not known, but it did indeed pass. A preliminary vote in the House last week came out 66 in favor and 49 against.

Harrah’s Casino is limited to video-based gambling only. Adding live table games like roulette and poker would attract a new clientele of player, in turn mean more money and jobs flowing through the entire region, according to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The tribe has been lobbying for live table games for years, making its final passage this week a significant milestone. Live table games at Harrah’s could be seen by year’s end.

N.C. Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill, tried to introduce a last minute amendment that would curtail the possible reach of live table games. Rapp, who philosophically is opposed to gambling, voted against the bill. In particular, he was disturbed by the prospect of the Eastern Band launching new casino operations, also with live table games and Vegas-style gambling.

Initially, Cherokee would have been permitted to expand to up to four additional new sites. To improve the chances of passage as it headed for a House vote, it was already reduced once to no more than two additional sites. Rapp’s amendment to curtail it further and limit the live table games to only the existing casino failed.

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