Editorial: Healthy, thriving Cherokee Casino good news for Sevier County as well

Apr. 08, 2013 @ 11:31 PM

We in Sevier County like to think we have everything a visitor could want. And we do have a huge variety of attractions. But not all.

That’s why the Cherokee Casino in North Carolina is such a major draw. There is no denying the economic impact the gaming industry has created in Cherokee.

A recent study by the University of South Carolina revealed Harrah’s Cherokee Casino has had a major impact on Swain and Jackson counties. Yes, the casino isn’t in Sevier County. Its not even in Tennessee. But it’s only a short drive over the mountain, and visitors to Gatlinburg are known to make that drive to visit the casino.

The casino is located on property of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The casino and hotel and related businesses have meant a lot to the tribe, providing hundreds of jobs and revenue.

“In 2009, the economic impact on Jackson and Swain counties was estimated to be approximately $300 million,” the study, put together by three professors from USC’s Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, reads. “Capital investments added another estimated $82 million.”

And that impact will likely continue to grow with the newest expansions and improvements at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.

“We could pick this property up and set it up on the Las Vegas strip and it would compete, it’s that fabulous,” casino General Manager Brooks Robinson said last month at the facility’s re-grand opening. In just the past month, the casino has hosted performances by country stars Darius Rucker and Blake Shelton, as well as Grammy-winning R&B star Alicia Keys, in their newly-completed, 3,000-seat events center. In November of last year the casino began live card games, something that had previously been missing.

And with the addition of the events center, Harrah’s has parlayed that into another revenue stream.

“(We) have added a world-class, state-of-the-art World Series of Poker room,” Robinson said. “Starting in April we will be hosting a World Series of Poker poker event here at this property. It’s a circuit-event, it will be hosted by us, and be in our event center. It’s going to be a huge event. I think it’s going to be the first one in the state, so we’re very proud of that.”

Gambling may not be your thing. But having the casino so close is another amenity for the millions of people who make us their destination. It’s good to see it doing so well.