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#1 May-24-2011 02:45:pm

From: Texas
Registered: Oct-21-2006
Posts: 12082

EBCI casino completes first phase of $650 million expansion

Cherokee casino completes first phase of $650 million expansion

Submitted by dbracken on 05/23/2011 - 15:05

Officials with Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel held a ceremony last week to mark the completion of the first phase of the hotel's $650 million expansion.

The project is one of the largest hospitality expansions now under way in the country. When it's completed next year, it will double the size of the casino floor.

Many of the larger projects associated with the expansion are now open, including the additional hotel rooms and the 3,035-seat event center.

By the winter of 2012, the casino expects to have expanded its gaming offerings from 3,400 gaming stations to 4,700.

The expansion includes video poker, live blackjack, raffle reels and Baccarito.

A new high limit gaming area will open this summer, and a 18,000-square-foot spa will open next spring.

The ultimate goal is to expand the casino's appeal beyond the 3.5 million gamblers who now visit annually from Atlanta, Asheville, Charlotte, Knoxville and other cities.

Cherokee is in Swain County at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 50 miles west of Asheville.

The expansion is a bold bet on the future considering that the gambling industry was hit extremely hard by the economic downturn.

The Cherokee casino relies heavily on turnaround trips, meaning customers who visit for the day.

The additional hotel rooms, combined with a wider range of non-gambling amenities, is designed to help the casino compete against destination resorts like the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville and Chateau Élan in north Georgia.

The casino is a major economic engine for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Over the years, the casino has delivered more than $1 billion in gambling profits to the tribe, which pays a 5 percent management fee to Harrah's.

The remaining casino profits are used to provide government services on the reservation and are paid to individual tribe members, who receive checks twice a year.

http://blogs.newsobserver.com/business/ … -expansion



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