Archived Opinion

Casino one step away from the total package

Let’s just say it’s about time.

A state special deputy attorney general said in a Nov. 25 letter that alcohol sales could indeed take place on the gaming floor at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, clearing away the last barrier blocking patrons from legally mixing alcohol and gambling. According to officials, the casino could be selling alcohol on the casino floor within a few weeks.

That’s good news for the casino, for the Cherokee and for the region. It’s no secret that patrons have been sneaking alcohol into the casino, keeping it in their cars or drinking prior to arriving at the state’s most popular tourist destination. Now, that money will go to the Cherokee to help it fund the many programs the tribe has instituted to help members since the casino opened over a decade ago.

This news comes just about exactly six months after tribal members voted overwhelmingly to allow alcohol sales at casino restaurants.

This issue is not about whether one endorses alcohol or not, or how one feels about gambling. Those issues have already been decided. All this ruling does is allow the casino to be as successful as possible, and as long as the tribe continues to spend the profits wisely and the entire region benefits, we support that concept.

With alcohol now available to patrons, the only remaining barrier preventing Harrah’s Cherokee Casino from becoming a full-blown gambling center is the ban on live dealers. Negotiations with the state have been on again and off again over the last few years, but it seems that this domino will likely follow those that have preceded it. It’s a bad time for anyone to try to slow down Western North Carolina’s most successful economic juggernaut.

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Canton’s future plans

As new town board members settle in to their jobs, this east Haywood County municipality is at a critical juncture as it seeks to re-define itself.

Mayor Pat Smathers and Alderman Eric Dills are joined by three first-term aldermen, making this the second time in two years that voters have voted in almost an entirely new board. That seems, if nothing else, like a mandate for change.

Canton’s potential is huge, as are its challenges. The town needs to take advantage of traffic off Interstate 40 and make sure its infrastructure can handle growth out there while also focusing on its unique neighborhoods and its downtown. Those neighborhoods and the downtown area, along with recreation amenities, are keys to attracting new families and attracting quality businesses.

Anyone who has followed the town’s politics knows Smathers and Dills are more often than not on opposite sides of many issues, but the dynamic can work well for Canton’s taxpayers. That differing philosophy should keep the communication lines open and give the local media plenty to write about. Lots of media attention and a few controversies usually help get citizens engaged in the political process.

We look forward to covering Canton’s progress over the next few years and watching the town finds its identity.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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