Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos Will Remain Closed Through April

Posted on April 3, 2020 - Last Updated on April 22, 2020

This week Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos announced that both of its North Carolina casinos will remain closed through the end of April in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Both Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel, located just over the Tennessee border in the westernmost part of NC, have been closed since March 18.

Harrah’s employees paid through April 15, benefits through June 30

The Cherokee Nation initially described the two-week as temporary. A subsequent announcement on March 26 extended the closures through April 15. On Wednesday the tribe announced that the closures would extend to the end of the month.

“Following the guidelines and recommendations of government officials and health agencies, the company remains committed to keeping its employees and communities safe,” said Harrah’s.

Previous announcements underscored that employees of the casinos would continue to be paid in full during the closure. However the most recent announcement explains that “beginning on April 16 the majority of employees will be placed on furlough.”

While furloughed employees will no longer be paid, they “will continue to receive medical benefits which will be provided and paid for by the company through reopening or June 30, whichever comes first.”

Cherokee taking preemptive steps to avoid outbreak

The latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows eight cases and one death from COVID-19 in Cherokee County where both of the casinos are located.

Smoky Mountain News of Waynesville, NC reports no cases has been confirmed in the Qualla Boundary territory. Nonetheless, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians “tribe has been taking extraordinary preemptive steps to prevent its arrival there, especially in light of the fact that the Cherokee Indian Hospital has no ICU beds or ventilators with which to treat patients.”

WSOP Circuit event postponed indefinitely

Caesars Entertainment had previously announced the cancellation of the World Series of Poker Circuit event set to take place at Harrah’s Cherokee from April 8-19.

The WSOP has not announced anything regarding the next scheduled WSOPC visit to Cherokee on August 6-17. That series schedule includes the three-day 2020 Global Casino Championship. The event is the culmination of the Circuit season. Qualifiers from every Circuit stop of the season comprise most of the field.

None of Caesars Entertainment’s North American casinos are currently open.

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Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. His book Poker & Pop Culture was published by D&B Books in 2019.

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