The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians began branching out its retail casino operations last year, and that might have been just the start. Two new Cherokee casinos might be on the way.
That will depend on the success of bids that EBCI Holdings, Inc. places in the near future. For now, the company is keeping many details about this new project close to the vest.
Two new Cherokee Casinos are in the works
Last week, the EBCI’s Tribal Council voted 8-2 in a special session to approve EBCI Holdings making the bids. The tribe formed EBCI Holdings, Inc., in 2020 to handle its gaming businesses.
The opportunity is only currently labeled “Project Thoroughbred” and comes with a price tag of $25 million. That would give EBCI Holdings a 44% stake in “expanded commercial gaming interests.”
While EBCI Holdings did disclose that Project Thoroughbred involves two new casinos and that both properties would be outside the EBCI’s sovereign territory within the borders of North Carolina, other information remains private. For example, the locations and whether these would be new constructions or takeovers of existing properties remain unknown.
EBCI Holdings board member Cory Blankenship shared that the opportunity is “time-sensitive” and that he thinks EBCI Holdings has “a really good shot at this.” If Blankenship’s prognostication proves accurate, it could represent a tremendous expansion.
EBCI Holdings looks to build on momentum
The big reason why the EBCI formed EBCI Holdings two years ago was due to a similar expansion. Last August, EBCI Holdings purchased Caesars Southern Indiana. Prior to that, the EBCI’s gaming operations consisted of two tribal casinos in North Carolina.
If these bids are successful, they come at a time when tribal gaming is on the rise. The first wholly tribal casino in Las Vegas opens this week, and tribal bodies could soon take control of legal sports betting in Maine.
Right now, all EBCI Holdings has is clearance to bid on new gaming ventures. Should the bid prove successful, people in new parts of the country could have access to Cherokee casinos.