Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Remains Open Despite Governor’s Order

Different states are taking measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus following increasing cases in the US. To this effect, the North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, has directed that all residents in the state should stay at home from 10 pm to 5 am every day. The only exception will be for essential workers and emergency travel. However, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) has defiled this order.

The order was to take effect on Friday, December 11, but since then. The casino has operated as usual and completely disregarded the executive stay-at-home order. According to the directive, commercial businesses are required to close up shop by 10 pm every day. Also, the sale of alcohol was to not go past 9 pm. All of these fell on deaf ears as the casino continued to serve alcohol past the stipulated time and did not cease operations for the night.

The tribe, which has about 13,400 members and control about 56,000 acres of land are in their right to continue operation. The 21-story Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is situated in this area, which is considered sovereign territory and is federally recognized. This does not mean they are not cautious and adhering to safety measures towards curtailing the spread of the deadly virus.

The EBCI Principal Chief, Richard Sneed, has come out to state that they are monitoring the impact of Covid-19 and are working hard in their little capacity to reduce the spread of the virus in their facility. That was after he made an announcement, stating that the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort will remain open and that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will not adopt the measures included in the state governor’s executive order.

Safety measurements

All social distancing and safety protocols are being carried out by the casino. Also, all its employees and guests are subjected to temperature screening before entry. Anyone that his/her temperature reads above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is denied access to the casino.

Across all facilities except the gaming flow, capacity is restricted to 50 percent, and everyone must use their face masks at all times inside the resort. As regards the gaming floor, there are limits on each table, and adequate social distancing is practiced.

The state governor, as he issued the directive, stated that the stakes are higher and it is indeed a matter of life and death. The number of people that have tested positive in the state just passed the 400,000 marks, with over 5,600 deaths. The daily positive results have doubled over the past month, having the governor suggest steeper restrictions. The Principal Chief of the EBCI, however, stated that its low rate in Covid-19 cases is the principal reason its doors will remain open, as it recorded only 652 Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the year. Right now, the tribe has recorded 58 active cases, two of which have led to hospitalization.

Cooper just recently approved a proposed amendment to the Cherokee’s state gaming compact. It is understandable if the governor feels betrayed following this gesture. After approval from the secretary of state, attorney general, and the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, the compact will allow the tribe to offer sports betting at its casinos.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.