North Carolina Gambling

North Carolina is one of the most liberal states in the South in terms of gambling. It is the only one in the region with casinos. It also has a few other forms of gambling, as well as an interesting past.

North Carolina Lottery

The North Carolina Lottery was approved by the state legislature in 2005. The vote was extremely controversial. It required the lieutenant governor to cast the tying vote in the senate. Scratch-off and lotto tickets are sold through the state lottery. This includes interstate drawings. All proceeds must go towards education.

Cherokee Casinos

There are two casinos on Cherokee land in North Carolina. Both operate under the Harrah’s brand, which manages the gaming operations. Harrah’s Cherokee opened in 1997 but its roots trace back to a video poker and bingo hall earlier in the decade.

Harrah’s Cherokee expanded multiple times over the years. It launched with only video poker in the early 1990’s. Cherokee later added video table games and slots that required skill.

In 2012, the casino underwent a massive facelift that included doubling the number of hotel rooms on the property. It also added live table games, which were not permitted before this time. Alcohol sales were legalized at the casino. This turned Harrah’s Cherokee into a resort comparable to those in major casino cities.

Harrah’s Cherokee is wildly successful. It is the closest land-based casino for gamblers in North Carolina, South Carolina as well as most of Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee.

The resort outgrew its footprint. Land was placed into a Cherokee trust near Murphy, NC. A second smaller resort was developed on this property. Its grand opening was in September 2015. It also uses the Harrah’s flag.


Charitable bingo is legal in North Carolina. It may be spread in a commercial format on Cherokee land.

North Carolina Online Gambling Law

There is not much in the way of legal online gambling in North Carolina. One exception is daily fantasy sports. These are daily or weekly contests where players pick a lineup and compete against opponents. It is similar to sports betting but falls under North Carolina’s skill gaming law.

Any site offering online poker, casino or sports betting is not licensed to operate in North Carolina. These are offshore sites not related to Harrah’s Cherokee.

North Carolina Video Poker History

Cherokee was able to start spreading video poker in the 90’s because the games were legal throughout the state. The law that permitted video poker in North Carolina had several restrictions. Establishments could not award prizes higher than $10. Cash payouts were illegal. Only three machines were permitted in any business. New video poker machines were barred from the state in 2000 after it was flooded by them when South Carolina banned the devices.

North Carolina legalized a lottery in 2005. The machines were seen as a nuisance at the time because many operators paid cash and imported illegal machines. The games were also thought to be competition to lottery sales. For these reasons, the games were phased out in 2006.

The games reemerged quickly after the video poker ban. A loophole was found in the state’s sweepstakes laws. The new theory was that players would purchase internet time. The operator would give players free games on the computers as a sweepstakes related to the internet café sale. The games mimicked slots and video poker. The only difference was that these businesses paid cash out as sweepstakes.

North Carolina lawmakers went back to the drawing boards. After five years of legislative action and legal battles, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the state’s ban on sweepstakes cafes. It went into effect on July 1, 2015.

List of States

Click on the links to see what is the online gambling situation in each of those states.