Casino Life

Murphy Cherokee Casino Wins Key Approval for $275mn Expansion

The Tribal Council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) last week approved a $275 million master plan to expand the tribe’s Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino in Murphy, North Carolina.

The master plan was not made available to the public. What has been made known is that it includes a set of different projects, but these are not named in the resolution passed by Tribal officials.

Connecticut-based architecture firm JCJ Architecture has been tapped to develop the concept design for the casino expansion and provide a cost estimate. The Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise (TCGE), the tribe’s gambling unit, said that it would obtain a loan that would not exceed $275 million to fund the various projects related to the proposed expansion of the complex.

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River originally opened doors in the fall of 2015. It initially featured 50,000 square feet of casino space with 1,050 slot machines, 70 table games, and a food court-style dining area. The tribe spent around $110 million on the property.

In 2018, the tribe completed a $13 million expansion to add 41,000 square feet of entertainment space featuring bowling, arcade games, and a full-service restaurant. That expansion project also saw the addition of 55 new gaming units as well as bartop units such as video poker to the gaming floor.

The property also features a seven-story hotel offering 300 rooms. In March 2021, the hotel and casino complex also added sports betting to its offering.

A 2019 law authorized the tribe to run sportsbooks at its two casinos in North Carolina. It was in March again when EBCI launched a wagering facility at its other casino – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.

Expansion to Include Additional Gaming Options and Rooms

After the master plan secured approval from the Tribal Council, Harrah’s Regional Vice President for Marketing Brian Saunooke said that “key features” of the planned expansion will include a new hotel tower, a new restaurant, a hotel lobby cafe, a spa and indoor pool, expanded gaming space, and an additional parking.

Responding to questions related to the scale and timeline of the expansion projects, Mr. Saunooke said that the casino will reach out once they are at a point to share more details.

It was announced not long ago that work on the expansion of the tribe’s other North Carolina property is approaching completion. EBCI broke ground on the $250 million project at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in the summer of 2018 and is set to unveil the new additions to its amenities this fall.

The project includes a new hotel tower – the resort’s fourth – with 725 rooms and seven suites, a 50-seat lobby bar and lounge, and a terrace pool on its second floor. A new parking garage and an 83,000-square-foot convention facility will also be added to the complex as part of the expansion.

Source: Cherokee approves $275 million expansion plan for Murphy casino, Smoky Mountain News, July 14, 2021

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