House panels OK Cherokee casino game expansion

Posted May 29, 2012 7:34 p.m. EDT
Updated May 30, 2012 10:48 a.m. EDT

— Changes to state gambling laws which allow the Cherokee casino in western North Carolina to offer live dealer poker and other table games have cleared two House committees.

A budget subcommittee met late Tuesday and approved a Senate proposal for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to implement an amended gambling compact with Gov. Beverly Perdue. The casino currently offers electronic games.

The House Commerce Committee approved the plan in a quick meeting Wednesday morning.

Deal supporters say it will expand casino offerings while hiring hundreds of workers. Public schools will benefit from a cut of revenues from the new games.

Tribe Principal Chief Michell Hicks told the budget subcommittee the change would help tribe members and those living in the region. Rep. Mark Hilton opposes the gambling expansion, saying it will contribute to more substance abuse and family problems.