Posted on: January 30, 2024, 10:46h.
Last updated on: January 30, 2024, 10:46h.
Caesars Entertainment is expanding its relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to include online sports betting.
The Las Vegas-based casino giant has operated the EBCI’s tribal casinos in North Carolina since Harrah’s Cherokee opened in November 1997. Today, the tribe owns two casinos in the Tar Heel State with Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.
With North Carolina lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) authorizing online sports betting last year, and operations set to commence on March 11 at noon local time, Caesars and the Cherokees today announced an expansion of their operating partnership to include internet sports gambling.
The state’s online sports betting law qualifies a “tribal gaming enterprise” for an online sportsbook license. The EBCI opted to expand its relationship with Caesars and its Caesars Sportsbook, which has run in-person sportsbooks at Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River since March 2021.
“Our relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has spanned more than two decades,” said Eric Hession, President of Caesars Digital. “Expanding this longstanding partnership allows us to build on the premier sports wagering experience enjoyed at our in-person sportsbooks by bringing a responsible way to enjoy sports at a deeper level to the hands of North Carolinians 21 and older across the state.”
Marketing Tribal Casinos
In a release provided to Casino.org, Caesars and the Cherokee tribe revealed that the entities will use their online sportsbook as a marketing tool to bring new guests to the tribal casinos. Both resorts are located in the rural southwestern region of the state.
The Caesars Sportsbook online app will utilize the company’s Caesars Rewards loyalty program. The marketing strategy will showcase “the amenities and experiences [guests] can enjoy at Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River through exclusive offers and marketing on the app.”
The North Carolina State Lottery Commission is reviewing online sportsbook applications from seven commercial operators. The lottery agency will regulate their forthcoming operations. Online sportsbooks, including Caesars Sportsbook, that filed applications with the North Carolina State Lottery Commission, can begin registering players on March 1.
The Caesars-EBCI online sportsbook will receive a state license upon demonstrating compliance with several conditions, including the requirement that Caesars Sportsbook’s computer servers run only from the Cherokees’ sovereign Indian lands. The tribe’s online sports betting allowance does not count against the total number of authorized interactive sports wagering operators. Instead, the online sportsbook will be considered tribal and be grouped into the Cherokees’ Class III gaming compact with the state.
The Catawba Indian Nation, which operates a temporary casino in Kings Mountain while trying to finance a permanent resort called Two Kings Casino, runs a retail sportsbook but has not yet announced its plans to pursue online wagering privileges.
North Carolina’s online sports betting law is its first expansion of commercial gaming since authorizing the state lottery in 2005. The EBCI’s two casinos had maintained a monopoly on most forms of gambling until last year’s sports wagering law.
The Cherokees, however, were supportive of the legislation.
Many of the surrounding states have already taken steps to allow mobile sports betting, and we are pleased that this bipartisan law is putting North Carolina on an equal footing,” said EBCI Principal Chief Richard Sneed.
The tribes were also dealt major concessions. The Cherokees do not have to partner with a professional sports stadium or venue to qualify for an online sportsbook permit.
And, more importantly, the Caesars Sportsbook permit will not come with a one-time cost of $1 million as is the case with the books applying in a commercial capacity.