Cherokee tribe gets more in '06 gambling payout 4-25-07

CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) - The hotel and casino at the Cherokee Indian reservation here attracted 200,000 more visitors last year than in 2005, and tribe members shared $18 million more in payouts from gambling profits, according to a new report.

Payments to the nearly 14,000 members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians rose to $122 million in 2006, according to a report from Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel.

The casino is the state's largest private employer west of Asheville and plans to add 1,000 new jobs in an expansion expected to be completed by 2010. The project would double the size of the casino, add a third hotel tower, and build more parking decks and retail space.

Harrah's made $280 million from the casino complex last year, attracting 3.6 million visitors, according to the report. The operation employed 1,873 people.

The company donated more than $244,000 to local charities, the report said.

“This year's community report demonstrates the value of strong partnerships between businesses, communities and local government to the continued growth and health of our region,” casino general manager Darold Londo said Tuesday.

“Over the next five years, the expansion we will be experiencing will offer many more opportunities for us to work together.”