Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, founded in 1997 by Caesars Entertainment. Photo Credit: Kevin Faragher

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort

For 17 years, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino has been a major fixture of Cherokee, North Carolina. The Harrah’s complex includes a four-star hotel, an elaborate gaming facility featuring both live card games and video machines, and an event center frequented by popular touring entertainers.

Despite mixed popular opinion regarding Native American Casinos, Harrah’s purports to be a nationwide example of a positive gaming organization. It is a major employer in Western North Carolina, with 2,100 employees — from cashiers and waiters to hotel employees and blackjack dealers. Tribal members make up 20% of those employed at Harrah’s.

It recently received the 2014 WNC Outstanding Business in Philanthropy award, given by the Western North Carolina Association of Fundraising Professionals — the casino donates a considerable amount of money to local non-profits every year. The company concentrates its giving in the seven western counties of North Carolina and focuses on organizations that benefit health and wellness, senior citizens, education, cultural and resource development, and environmental initiatives.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Official Website:

In addition to paying fully for medical, dental, and vision insurance for casino employees, Harrah’s partners with Southwestern Community College to offer GED classes onsite at the casino, and covers enrollment for any casino worker interested in taking them.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians shares the earnings of Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino. Every enrolled tribal member, upon turning 18 years old, is entitled to a share in the casino profits. In 1995, the average annual payout per capita was $595 a year. By 2010, it had jumped to $7,347 annually (per the Smoky Mountain News).

Video Credit: Kevin Faragher

“The money from the casino helped pay for the new school and health center and the checks each member of the tribe gets twice a year. I don’t like the casino. I work for the casino. And there we are.” — Josh, Cherokee

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