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UPDATE: Harrah's Cherokee Casinos Will Open At Limited Capacity On May 28

Courtesy of Harrah's Cherokee Casinos
Both casinos - on the Qualla Boundary and in Murphy - with begin reopening on May 18.

(Update 5/28) The Eastern Band announced updated COVID-19 protection measures including a requirement that everyone at Harrah's Cheroke Casino Resort and Harrah's Valley River Casino will be required to wear a face covering at all times.


(Update 5/27): Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos announced that it will open to the public at 30% capacity  on Thursday, May 28 starting at 6 a.m. 


The casinos first opened on May 18 to guests by invitation only. Employees will all wear masks provided by Harrah's.  Health checks will be conducted on employees and guests will undergo temperature checks before entering the casinos. The casino gaming areas will temporarily be non-smoking.

Most restaurants will also open with limited seating as well as carryout options. Other amenities will also open in phases as determined by the state of NC and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, according to a casino press release.  

Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos have announced that both locations will begin gradually reopening on May 18. 


As both the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and North Carolina begin rolling back COVID-19 restrictions on Friday. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River are both working toward reopening with new social distancing and occupancy restrictions. 


"This is uncharted territory for the casino industry, but what is clear is that when we return to work it will not be exactly as it was prior to closing,” says Brooks Robinson, senior vice president and general manager in a press release.  “We look forward to welcoming back our guests and team members, also understanding that social distancing is going to be a part of our business and lives for a while."


Harrah’s says that new health and safety precautions will be in place for the safety of employees and guests. The gaming floor, hotel and some restaurants, where social distancing can be practiced will be the first to open with ‘significant’ limitations on occupancy. Areas where social distancing is not possible, such as the spa, valet, poker, buffet and concerts, will remain closed. 

Harrah’s says that to make social distancing possible, only a small group of invited guests will be able to access the casinos  as well as members of the EBCI. Customers will receive the invitation by email starting as early as May 13. Additionally, only invited guests will be able to make hotel reservations and access the properties.

The casinos have been closed for about sixty days. Employees were paid through April 16 before being furloughed. Furloughed employees will begin returning to work as each work area restarts operations. Before beginning work, each employee will complete a COVID-19 screening including a temperature check. All will be required to wear a face mask while on duty.

The Qualla Boundary will reopen to traffic and lift the current curfew at 10 p.m. on Friday, May 8.


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.
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