Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino Expansion Progressing Smoothly

Posted on: December 13, 2023, 12:29h. 

Last updated on: December 16, 2023, 11:46h.

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel’s $275 million expansion project is progressing nicely, Tribal officials said this week.

Harrah's Cherokee Valley River casino expansion
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River continues to progress on its $275 million expansion. The expanded casino floor is pictured. (Image: Cherokee One Feather)

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River opened in 2015 to complement the Tribe’s primary casino, Harrah’s Cherokee. Valley River is located about 40 miles southeast of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ (EBCI) larger casino resort, which dates back to 1997.

However, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River will soon feature a larger resort footprint, with more casino space and gaming machines. Speaking this week with Cherokee One Feather, the official media news source of the EBCI, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River General Manager Lumpy Lambert said construction has moved swiftly.

The casino executive said the expanded casino space should be ready in mid-2024, and the hotel is targeting a late 2024 opening.

New Lures

In September 2022, the Tribe broke ground on the $275 million project that will result in 25,000 square feet of additional casino space, with 400 new slots, 12 table games, a 10-table World Series of Poker (WSOP) room, and a casino bar with 14 tabletop positions.

A new hotel tower will add nearly 300 guest rooms to the destination, plus an indoor pool and fitness center. A 1,700-space parking garage and a full-service spa and salon are also being built.

One reason for the expansion is to give guests more reasons to visit the southwestern part of the state, where Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is located. The tribal property relies on visitors from Tennessee and Georgia, where casinos don’t currently exist.

We recognized the necessity of an expansion when we opened eight years ago,” Lambert said. “We are certainly looking forward to the opportunity to grow and expand our market.”

Lambert says the new facilities will create about 100 permanent positions, and the subsequent revenue will further support the EBCI’s economic prosperity.

“The expansion can assist in not only the continued development of Tribal programs but Tribal distribution for enrolled members and job opportunities,” Lambert added. “Assisting Tribal distribution and Tribal programming are our primary goals for the EBCI.”

Tribes Maintain Casino Monopoly

State legislative efforts to legalize commercial casinos in Raleigh capital fizzled earlier this year. However, the push to bring Las Vegas casino resorts to the Tar Heel State is expected to recommence next year.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) is championing the commercial casino undertaking. For now, the EBCI and Catawba Indian Nation maintain their monopoly on casino gambling through their Class III gaming compacts with the state.

The Tribes are losing their grip on sports betting after state lawmakers legalized commercial sports betting this year. The state allows eight professional sports stadiums and venues to pursue retail sportsbooks and conduct online wagering through third-party partners. The PGA Tour and NASCAR can also seek online sportsbook licenses.

The Tribes can only offer sports betting on their sovereign lands at their three casinos. Along with the two EBCI Harrah’s casinos, the Catawbas own a temporary casino called Two Kings and hope to build a permanent resort in Kings Mountain.

When online sportsbooks go live in North Carolina, some Tribal bets will presumably move to the Internet. In states where online sportsbooks are allowed, most bets are facilitated via the Internet.