How North Carolina’s Two Harrah’s Casinos Stack Up With Top US Casinos

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino opened in the small town of Cherokee on November 13, 1997. The grand opening, on the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), backed up traffic for miles.

It was the first casino in North Carolina, and thousands of people lined up to try their luck. The new casino featured hundreds of new video gaming machines.

NC casinos usher in economic growth

Within a short time, the casino brought unprecedented economic growth to the community.

In 2015, tribal officials opened a second casino, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel. This second casino is located about 40 miles southwest in Murphy, near the Tennessee and Georgia borders.

The clearest difference between the two Harrah’s casinos is their size. Harrah’s Cherokee is substantially larger.

They both offer a wide assortment of games, including blackjack, craps and Ultimate Texas Hold ’em.

Harrah’s Cherokee is also one of the hosts of the World Series of Poker Circuit Events (WSOP).

The EBCI owns two of three tribal casinos in North Carolina. The Catawba Indian Nation owns and operates the third casino, the Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain. This casino is still in its temporary phase.

Harrah’s Cherokee and the country’s biggest casinos

As the largest and oldest casino in North Carolina, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort tries to hold its own on the US casino stage.

However, its 150,000 square feet of casino space renders it far outside the largest casinos in the country. When compared to America’s biggest casino complex, Winstar World Casino & Resort in Thackery, Oklahoma, which boasts a massive 370,000-square-foot gaming floor, Harrah’s Cherokee appears quite small.

Harrah’s Cherokee is also considerably smaller than the next two largest casinos in the country. Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, and Foxwood Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, which have 364,000 and 340,000 sq ft of casino space, respectively.

What Harrah’s Cherokee might lack in size, it makes up for with its grand scenery of the Smoky Mountains.

Source: Ben Gray / AP Images

With its 50,000 sq. ft. of gaming space, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy doesn’t play in the same league as the above-mentioned casinos, but that is not to say there isn’t a good time to be had there.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino includes 3,000 slot machines and up to 160 table games. Players will find table games like Baccarat, Blackjack, High Card Flush, and Mississippi Stud to name a few.

Harrah’s Cherokee and the biggest card rooms in the country

Table games are a popular feature of casinos in the US. Poker is a particular favorite in the state of California, which is why the three casinos with the highest number of card rooms are all found in the Golden State.

Commerce Casino in Commerce, California proudly carries the title of the largest card room in the U.S. and the world. More than 10,000 visitors walk through its doors daily, many of whom are there to try their luck at one of the 200 poker tables on site.

The next largest cardroom is in Hawaiian Gardens, only a 25-minute drive from Commerce heading south. The Gardens casino has 182 poker tables on offer, and guests are welcome 24/7.

Finally, the Bicycle Hotel & Casino, a seven-story, four-star hotel in Bell Gardens, California, holds the third spot with 135 poker tables. This casino sponsors the Bicycle Casino Foundation, which supports non-profit organizations concerned with helping improve the lives of the young people in Bell Garden.

Harrah’s Cherokee features around 160 tables while Cherokee Valley River offers 60+. Harrah’s Cherokee currently hosts the only WSOP poker room, but an expansion to Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River will feature a 10-table WSOP poker room.

These are modest numbers compared to, say, Commerce Casino. But then again table games are not these casinos’ best features; slots are the main draw here.

North Carolina WSOP events this season

Each year, North Carolina plays host to World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit Events, a series of poker tournaments hosted across the states and throughout the world.

The series kicks off each year in late July, coming to a head the following August with a $1,000,000 Global Casino Championship. The winner is also awarded a WSOP gold bracelet. The WSOP US Circuit Events are highly valued especially by amateur and recreational players because the tournaments allow them to partake at affordable price points.

At each stop, 12 official events take place in a span of 12 days. Featured during each stop is also a $1,700 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Main Event. This season, the WSOP 2023-24 Circuit Tour makes 25 stops. Poker enthusiasts in North Carolina will be thrilled to hear four of those stops are at Harrah’s Cherokee.

The remaining dates of those four stops at Harrah’s Cherokee are as follows:

  • February 15 – 26, 2024
  • May 2 – 13, 2024
About the Author

Rashid Mohamed

Rashid Mohamed is a freelance news reporter covering sports, sports betting, gambling laws, and casino business for Catena Media. He writes for a number of sites including NCSharp, PlayTexas, PlayCA, and PlayOhio.