The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are set to see some growth in North Carolina. Gov. Roy Cooper has approved a proposed amendment allowing the tribe to offer sports betting, while Chief Richard Sneed is looking to expand.
North Carolina’s General Assembly had previously voted in favor of sports betting, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos, which the tribe owns, couldn’t offer action until their tribal compact had been amended. That process was expected to finish by April, 2020, but Cooper delayed the process by more than 6 months, with Covid being cited as a reason to blame.
“I had a very candid conversation with the governor about that fact that this was only supposed to take 180 days,” Sneed said at a Tribal Council “I don’t think he was very happy with my comments, but that’s just too bad. I feel like we were just kind of strung along with this for a year, and there was really no need for it. But thankfully it’s done.”
That doesn’t mean anyone can get to sports betting this month. Maybe in time for the next NBA season, though. “If I were a real optimist, I would hope maybe by the end of January, maybe in time for the Super Bowl,” said Ann Davis, attorney for the Tribal Gaming Commercial Enterprise. “Don’t hold your breath though, because we’ve got two issues with the Department of the Interior: COVID and administration change.” She was very confident that should March Madness happen in 2021, the tribe would be able to take bets on it.
Under the compact, sports betting will only be permitted on tribal lands, limiting potential online action. The Cherokee are working on geofencing software all the same, hoping it can offer mobile betting options on reservation lands.
The tribe has also approved the creation of a limited liability company to begin acquiring other commercial gaming properties. The idea is to continue expanding their gambling empire, secure the cash cow of the “the next seven generations of Cherokees,” and ward off potential threats from other tribes.
That threat is a real one. The Cherokee have building competition from the Catawba Nation, who are negotiating for a casino in North Carolina, as well as the Lumbee tribe, who have recently gained momentum in their battle for tribal recognition and a future casino of their own.
Casino gambling could come to Grand Island, Nebraska
State Senator Ray Aguilar believes Grand Island could become a big hub for gambling in Nebraska, providing tax relief for the state and economic activity for the area. He’s been discussing possibilities with Fonner Park officials. “It is the easiest form of property tax relief that we can do and the most instant and gratifying one,” Aguilar said. “Hopefully, the sooner the better that we get something built and make sure that Grand Island is in the position to take advantage of that.”
Tribal outfits like Ho-Chunk Inc. helped fund pro-gambling advertising during a 2020 referendum on the issue, and are likely suitors for potential casino sites.
Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians get compact renewed.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has agreed to a new tribal-state gaming compact with the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians. The gaming part of the compact, if approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior, will allow for up to 2,000 gaming devices.
“This new gaming compact emphasizes the ongoing commitment and support from the State for our Tribe’s economic success and, in return, the Corning community,” said Tribal Chairman Andrew Alejandre. “This compact will support our ongoing goals of economic growth, job creation and community support.”
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is hiring
400 jobs are available at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, Florida. The casino held a career fair on December 7 to help fill the roles, but interested applicants can still check out what jobs may be available here.
Florida Senator proposes new compact with Seminoles
Florida has a budget problem, and Senate President Wilton Simpson believes the solution could be a new compact with the Seminole tribe, imposing an online sales tax on out-of-state companies. Fellow Republicans oppose his plan simply by the nature of it being a tax hike, but he’s sticking to his proposal:
“I can assure you if you read tax law it’s not a tax increase. We use the honor system to collect those taxes … the honor system does not work very well. So it’s not a tax increase to pay the taxes you owe.”
Michigan Tribes prepare to go online
Several casinos in Michigan are working on online offerings as the state is expected to give an all-clear in the next few weeks. While the tribes don’t need to get approval to offer a digital platform, they need one to offer to the state as a whole.
“Developing the application, the website so that it’s seamless, it’s exciting. We’ve been working probably the greater part of a year on this,” Jose Flores, vice president and general manager of Gun Lake Casino said.
“It’s a convenience factor for our guests,” he added. “If you’re not able to make it in just before game time, you’re able to jump on the mobile application, on the website and place your bets.”
Morongo Casino and Resort trials cashless system
With Covid looking to be an issue for the next few months at least, the Morongo Casino and Resort in Southern California will launch a cashless system in early 2021. Rather than offer a wallet and digital currency system, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians have opted to create a digital credit platform for trusted customers.
“We started having discussions about cashless gaming over a year ago,” said Morongo Chief Operating Officer Richard St. Jean. “We think our industry is close to going completely cashless in the next five years. This is a huge step in making that happen.”
Oregon casino closes due to Covid
Finally, with Covid infections hitting new daily highs all the time, Oregon’s Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City has announced it will be closed for two weeks from December 2. It’s hotel, gaming floor and golf course will be closed, and staff will use the closure period to deep clean the property.