Cherokee Casino Wants Expanded Alcohol Sales
Special Report - November 24, 2009
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino located in Western, North Carolina is hoping to receive approval from the Alcohol Beverage Commission (ABC) to begin selling beer, wine, and liquor to players on the casino floor by the end of the year. In June, tribal voters from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians approved alcohol sales. The casino and hotel started selling beer and wine in October, followed by mixed drink sales in early November. Currently, alcohol sales are limited to the casino’s two restaurants, hotel room service, a coffee shop, and a lounge. The tribal ABC board is waiting for the state ABC board’s legal interpretation as to the question of serving alcohol on the floor of the casino based on analysis by the state board’s attorneys. They hope to have an answer sometime in December.
North Carolina operates as a “local control” state, meaning that local counties and municipalities hold elections in order to decide whether to be wet or dry. If a county or municipality elects to authorize the sale of liquor, a local government owned and operated ABC board is established to distribute liquor. In the case of the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, the Sylva and Bryson City ABC boards have agreed to split the expenses and profits of selling liquor to the casino. Initial estimates put the anticipated payoff of the casino’s liquor sales high enough to supercede both Mecklenburg and Wake counties, which are currently the highest sellers of spirits in the state. ABC officials have scaled back those estimates under recent scrutiny.
“There is no wisdom in mixing gambling and drinking,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Encouraging more alcohol consumption by casino patrons only means that there will be a lot of alcohol going into people who are going to be getting into their cars and driving home on mountain roads. Alcoholic beverages are available in the restaurants, coffee shop, lounge, and through room serviceall food-focused locales where alcohol is more safely consumed and less likely to be abused than as a distraction from the inevitable loss associated with continuous gambling.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.