Casino gambling in North Carolina is conducted under the auspices of contracts – called compacts – between two Native American tribes and the state.
Currently, two tribes – the Catawba Indian Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians – own all three casinos in the state, two of which are located in western, mountainous areas near the Tennessee border. They are:
- Catawba Two Kings Casino (operated by Delaware North) in Kings Mountain
- Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee
- Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy
|Catawba Two Kings Casino
|538 Kings Mountain Blvd, Kings Mountain, NC 28086
|Electronic: blackjack, multi-hand blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat
|Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort
|777 Casino Dr, Cherokee, NC 28719
|Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel
|777 Casino Pkwy, Murphy, NC 28906
The three casinos are virtual gambling oases. None of the five states bordering North Carolina has casino gambling of any kind. South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama have not legalized sports betting. The two Cherokee casinos in the western reaches of the state are the nearest option for the more than six million residents of metropolitan Atlanta.
These tribes monopolized legal sports betting until North Carolina legalized mobile betting. That’s scheduled to launch state-wide on March 11. Still, that doesn’t figure to impact business much. Sports betting is viewed as an amenity for the much more lucrative casino trade.
The hold on casino gambling there appears firm for the tribes. Attempts to expand casino gambling in North Carolina off tribal lands failed in 2023.
North Carolina Casino History is Brief
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians signed a compact with the state of North Carolina in 1994, quickly leading to a plan to build the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. The property opened with Class III gaming late in 1997 and immediately became the nearest legal gambling option for Atlanta (162 miles) and Charlotte (177 miles).
The property has been renovated four times, with significant milestones coming in 2009 after voter approval for alcohol sales and in 2021 with the advent of live table games after an amendment to the compact.
The second Harrah’s property, in Murphy, opened in 2015 and underwent a $13 million expansion. Sports betting was added in 2021.
Another expansion for completion in 2024 would add 296 hotel rooms, 300 slots more table games, and a poker room.
Catawba Two Kings Casino is currently housed in a temporary facility in Kings Mountain as construction on a planned 400-room hotel, 3,000-slot machine, and 120-table game casino is slated to begin in 2024. It became the nearest option for metropolitan Charlotte’s population of nearly three million.