Harrah’s Cherokee celebrated its 25th birthday in 2022. It’s certainly brought a lot of activity to the area. Harrah’s has released the 2022 version of its annual Economic Impact report to demonstrate just what the resort means to the local community.
“25 years ago, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos made a commitment to be a good business partner by enriching the lives of our team members and our surrounding communities in western North Carolina…we are more than gaming,” said Brooks Robinson, Harrah’s Cherokee Regional Senior Vice President & General Manager.
More than gaming indeed. Though, it’s really all centered around gaming. The hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues wouldn’t be the same without it. And we love it! 2022 was an especially big year as a big portion of the major expansion at Harrah’s Cherokee was completed. There’s an all-new tower with hundreds of new rooms, new restaurants like the Gordon Ramsey Food Market, and new shopping options. That’s a big reason why Harrah’s paid a whopping $161 million for goods and services during the year. There’s a lot of construction budget in there. 2022 also saw big-time music acts come to the Cherokee Event Center, as well as a couple of World Series of Poker events.
The report combines Harrah’s Cherokee and the newer Cherokee Valley River resorts, and the numbers are eye-opening. The two resorts saw over 4 million visitors in 2022. There’s not an exact breakdown of how many of those visits were locals versus people traveling from out of town, but that’s undoubtedly bringing a lot of folks into the area. The two resorts have over 3,800 employees and paid out over $187 million in salaries and wages. That makes Harrah’s one of the largest employers in Western NC.
Those 3,800 employees logged in over 117,000 volunteer hours across a number of noble initiatives like the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Western North Carolina, Folds of Honor, and more. Harrah’s also makes an annual donation of $7.5 million to the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. The foundation aims to provide funding to improve the quality of life for members of the Cherokee nation and residents of the Qualla Boundary and surrounding seven counties. It provides grants to enhance economic development and employment opportunities as well as cultural and environmental preservation.
Casinos often get a bad rap, and it’s not undeserved. There are definitely some downsides to the communities associated with them. This economic development report may be an exercise in good public relations, but it’s undeniable that the two resorts have had some demonstrable positive impacts. Who knows what the next 25 years will bring?