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Sports Betting At Two Eastern Band Casinos Closer To Reality

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Matt Bush
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Blue Ridge Public Radio

North Carolina lawmakers could give the final okay to sports betting in the state as early as Monday.  A bill that would allow sports books and off-track horse betting at casinos on tribal lands cleared a key House committee Wednesday in Raleigh, and is on the agenda for a floor vote Monday evening.  The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operate the only two casinos in North Carolina.  The casinos are located in Cherokee and Murphy on the Qualla Boundary.  

Senate Bill 154 is sponsored by Western North Carolina Republican Senator Jim Davis.  It would allow gambling on professional and collegiate sports, as well as horse racing, to take place at casinos on tribal lands.  It passed the Senate on a 43-7 vote April 9th.  Davis says that the new gambling could bring in as much as $1.5 million in revenue annually to the state. WNC GOP Representative Kevin Corbin has carried the bill in the House.  He expects the bill to pass and says that the additional revenue isn’t the most important benefit of the bill. “I think the revenue will be a secondary concern for the state," Corbin says.  "I think that it will be a jobs driver and an income source for the region.”

The first Eastern Band casino located in Cherokee opened in 1997.  The second opened in Murphy in 2016.

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.
Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.