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North Carolina Governor Gives Cherokees Exclusive Gambling Rights

The Seminole Indians struck gold last year when they negotiated a gambling expansion compact with former Governor Charlie Crist that allowed the Seminoles to offer blackjack and baccarat at five of their seven Sunshine State casinos. Now, the Cherokee Indians have made a similar deal in North Carolina.

Governor Beverly Perdue has signed off on a deal that will give the Cherokee tribe the rights to operate table games with live dealers. Up until now, the tribe has had to run electronic blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat. The new deal also gives the Cherokees exclusive rights to these games.

If North Carolina lawmakers approved gambling expansion that included any of these table games for casinos not run by the Cherokees, the compact would become voided and the tribe would be off the hook for the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that would come from the new games.

"This will mean additional dollars going directly to school districts, and it will provide an economic boost for Western Carolina," said Perdue, in a statement after the compact was signed. "I urge the General Assembly to act so that we can quickly start receiving the benefits of this expansion."

Lawmakers in North Carolina are not forced to approve the compact for it to become law, but they could be instrumental in making it easier for the tribe to offer the new games. The agreement in place is for thirty years, assuring millions in revenue for at least three decades.

Tax revenue is not the only benefit of the new compact. Over 400 new jobs are expected to be created to operate the new table games. The revenue generated is already earmarked for the education system in North Carolina. Similarly, much of the gaming money in Florida is going towards their educational system.

"This agreement will provide substantial economic benefit to tribal members and throughout Western Carolina," said Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Michell Hicks, in a prepared statement. "This agreement further demonstrates the Cherokees' commitment to educating our young people through the education funding initiative."

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