Caesars Entertainment Expands Partnership with Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to Include Online Sports Betting
Caesars Entertainment has announced an expansion of its operating partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to include online sports betting. This move comes as a result of North Carolina lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) authorizing online sports betting operations, which are set to commence on March 11, 2024, at noon local time.
The state’s online sports betting law allows for a “tribal gaming enterprise” to apply for an online sportsbook license. The EBCI has opted to expand its relationship with Caesars and its Caesars Sportsbook, which has been running in-person sportsbooks at Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River since March 2021.
Eric Hession, president of Caesars Digital, stated, “Expanding this longstanding partnership allows us to build on the premier sports wagering experience enjoyed at our in-person sportsbooks by bringing a responsible way to enjoy sports at a deeper level to the hands of North Carolinians 21 and older across the state.”
The Caesars Sportsbook online app will utilize the company’s loyalty program, Caesars Rewards, to serve as a marketing tool to attract new guests to the tribal casinos. These resorts are located in the rural southwestern region of North Carolina. The North Carolina State Lottery Commission is currently reviewing online sportsbook applications from seven commercial operators, and the lottery agency will regulate their operations.
The Caesars-EBCI online sportsbook will receive a state license upon demonstrating compliance with several conditions, including the requirement that Caesars Sportsbook’s computer servers run only from the Cherokees’ sovereign Indian lands.
The Catawba Indian Nation, which operates a temporary casino in Kings Mountain, has not yet announced its plans to pursue online wagering privileges. This move marks the first expansion of commercial gaming in North Carolina since the state lottery was authorized in 2005.
EBCI Principal Chief Richard Sneed expressed his support for the bipartisan law, stating, “Many of the surrounding states have already taken steps to allow mobile sports betting, and we are pleased that this bipartisan law is putting North Carolina on an equal footing.” Additionally, the Cherokees have been granted major concessions, such as not having to partner with a professional sports stadium or venue to qualify for an online sportsbook permit and not being required to pay a one-time cost of $1 million, as is the case for commercial operators.