The state of North Carolina is certainly not too well-known for its gambling options. It does, however, offer a small selection of casinos; all of which are owned by Native American tribes and operated by larger corporations. The most notable Native American tribe responsible for gambling in North Carolina are the Cherokee Indians. They own the only two full casino resorts in the state, which are both “Harrah’s Cherokee” properties. While the casinos here were originally bingo halls and later featured a few electronic games, today they are full resort-style casinos.
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North Carolina has two tribal-operated land-based casinos that offer slots and table games, but it doesn’t have any commercial gambling establishments of this type. With no racetracks located within the borders of the state, pari-mutuel betting is not available.
Charity gambling events, on the other hand, are fairly popular and the state has its own lottery. North Carolina legislators haven’t passed any iGaming-friendly regulations and are unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future, so most of the local gambling enthusiasts simply play their favorite games on offshore sites.
There are a few different forms of gambling which are currently legal in North Carolina. Before delving further into the types of casinos that are located here, we’ll quickly go over the different forms of legal gambling available in North Carolina. These options include the North Carolina Education Lottery, Indian Casinos, charitable bingo and raffles, and low-steaks bingo. The most popular of these options is certainly the Indian Casinos, which offer full-fledged gaming in addition to a hotel resort. These casinos are most comparable to the popular options found in places like Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Reno.
North Carolina (NC) is not a gambling-friendly state, with its first anti-gambling laws dating back to 1749, 27 years before the Declaration of Independence. The state’s only federally recognized tribe, the independent and sovereign Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, operates two different gaming facilities on their land in the Smoky Mountains in the western part of the state.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort offers 150,000 square feet of gaming space, including slot machines and video poker, and the table games blackjack, roulette, craps, Let It Ride, and 3-card poker. There is also a 1,108-room hotel, 11 restaurants, and a 3,000-seat event center that hosts concerts and shows.
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel includes 60,000 square feet of gaming space featuring more than 1,000 slot machines and the table games blackjack, roulette, craps, 3-card poker, and Mississippi Stud. The hotel has 300 rooms, and there is a food court with five dining options.
The only laws on the books regarding online casinos prevent their operations from being located inside the state’s borders. Online casinos located elsewhere are legal to play, as long as you are at least 21 years old– the same age required for the two brick-and-mortar casinos.
As of 2016, there is a total of two Indian Casinos located in North Carolina, both of which are operated by Caesar’s Entertainment and owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Harrah’s Cherokee is located in Cherokee, NC while Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is located in the town of Murphy. Both casinos feature table games, slots, and video poker.
Each of the two casinos here offers full casinos in addition to large hotels and resorts. This means you are not only able to visit, but can also stay here and enjoy the many amenities associated with the resort. The casino floors located at each property have very little restrictions, meaning they offer all the usual games including Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Pai Gow, etc.
All full-gaming casinos within the state are operated by Harrah’s properties (Caesar’s Entertainment) which are run on behalf of the Cherokee Native American tribe. This is beneficial, especially if you are a Total Rewards member, as you will generally be able to get comped rooms and earn reward credits while playing here. If visiting any of the casinos in North Carolina, it may be beneficial to sign up for a player’s card if you don’t already have one because Caesar’s owns many properties across the country. This means you can acquire/use comp dollars and other benefits at any of their properties.
North Carolina is a mecca for college basketball fans, and one of the biggest events on the national sports gambling calendar each year is the NCAA Basketball Tournament every March. That’s the only connection sports betting and the state are expected to have any time soon.
Sports betting is illegal in the state, and the traditionally conservative government hasn’t shown any signs of following its neighbors who are legalizing it. The point-shaving scandal that involved NC State and The University of North Carolina (UNC) back in the early 1960s also stirs memories of the pitfalls that can come with legalized gambling. Even if the state does change its stance on sports betting, it’s a very safe bet that wagering on college sports will remain illegal.
There are no state laws addressing the regulation and legality of daily fantasy sports (DFS). Twice now there have been bills proposed in the NC House specifically to regulate DFS, which have failed. In 2017 it was voted down outright, and in 2018 it was yanked from consideration after a row broke out over language that would have expressly stated that fantasy sports isn’t gambling.
For their part, DFS-giants DraftKings and FanDuel have been operating inside the state since 2012, and they support the crux of the bill, which states that these games are happening and people are playing, so addressing that reality is necessary. Another attempt at legislation isn’t expected until 2019.
Until then, all major DFS websites will continue to operate within the state, but without regulation.
ESports are big business in the college-rich environment of NC, with players at some universities actually earning scholarship money for their ability to play League of Legends. Since gambling on eSports is considered the same as sports betting, it is illegal.
You can find the occasional horse race in North Carolina but there are no regularly operating race tracks, and there is no parimutuel betting allowed. The Queen’s Cup Steeplechase that is held every April just outside of Charlotte may provide the excitement of a horse race, but you won’t be able to place any legal wagers.
Greyhound racing is illegal, and there hasn’t been an operating dog track since 1954.
Because all parimutuel betting is illegal, there are no off-track betting locations within the state.
The poker room at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is one of the premier rooms in the southeastern United States. Its 20 tables regularly host a World Series of Poker circuit event, with over $2.5 million in guaranteed prize money, and it hosted the 2015 World Series of Poker National Championship.
Outside of the special events, Harrah’s hosts poker tournaments seven days a week.
In the Raleigh area, there is the Atlantic Poker Tour, which hosts poker five days a week. Instead of winning cash, you can win prizes, and there is a strict no gambling policy.
As is the case with online casinos, there are no online poker rooms operating in NC, but you can play online poker located outside the state.
North Carolina calls its state lottery the North Carolina Education Lottery. Started in 2006, all revenues raised go to paying teacher salaries and funding school construction. Along with scratch-off tickets, the following draw games are available:
Winning scratch-off tickets must be redeemed within 90 days, and all draw winning tickets must be redeemed within 180 days of the drawing.
You must be at least 18 years old to play.
Bingo halls are also a somewhat popular option, especially for local senior citizens, while the lottery system is a fairly standard program offering scratch-off tickets and lottery games through the state. Most of the revenue generated from all three of these programs goes directly back into state education system. Today, far and away the most popular gambling destinations in the state are the Indian Casinos.
Bingo is legal under the following conditions:
There are more than 200 bingo halls in North Carolina.
Beach Bingo is also played in the state and refers to games with prizes of $10 or less. These games do not require a license and are legal for anyone to host.
You must be at least 18 years old to play bingo in North Carolina.
The history of Gambling in North Carolina can be traced back to long before the United States existed as it does today. As early as the mid-18th century, laws similar to those in England were enacted and enforced, which enabled a few forms of gambling, but discourage excessive gambling. The laws here did not change too much until 1791 when most games were flat out banned. Flash forward to 1982, and high-steaks bingo games were made legal and began being offered. This would pave the way for the large casino-resorts we know and love today.
In 1994 an agreement was reached between the Cherokee Indians and the governor at the time which authorized the construction of a casino that would be able to offer a limited selection of electronic games. The casino officially opened in 1997, and Harrah’s Cherokee was born. For the time being, they would only be able to offer a small number of electronic games. The number and variety of games here slowly expanded over the next decade. It wasn’t until 2012 when new terms were negotiated that would allow table games to be offered at the casino.
Until very recently, there was only one Indian Casino available in the state; Harrah’s Cherokee. Harrah’s Cherokee is located within a quiet and peaceful area in the Great Smoky Mountains region. It wasn’t until September 2015 when Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino was opened in Murphy, NC. The Valley River property was opened as a “sister” casino to the original Harrah’s Cherokee. Today, both options are popular to those passing through, and have also become popular vacation destinations for local North Carolina residents.
– In North Carolina, you must be 21 years of age to gamble at casinos.
– In North Carolina, you must be 21 to drink or buy alcohol at casinos.
– Though drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) at most casinos here are free, tipping the waiter/waitress is a common courtesy.
– Smoking is permitted in most casinos, though it is important to be wary of all marked non-smoking areas.