North Carolina Casinos

North Carolina Casinos & Gambling
  • Bingo (1945), Cherokee Casino (1997), Lottery (2005)
  • $506 million
  • $1.85 billion
  • 18 for lottery, 21 for casinos, no minimum for bingo and raffles
  • North Carolina bans smoking in all indoor business. It does not apply to Cherokee’s casinos.
  • No forms are legal

North Carolina gambling is almost non-existent. There are two North Carolina casinos located in the Smoky Mountains. Each resort is on land belonging to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The original Harrah’s Cherokee casino only offered slots that required skill, video poker, and electronic table games. Harrah’s Cherokee casino expanded into a massive resort with full table games in August 2012. The Cherokee Indians put a plot of land into trust near Murphy. A North Carolina casino opened on that property on September 2015. The casino is much smaller than the sprawling resort in Cherokee.

There are only two other forms of gambling that are legal in North Carolina. Charities may offer bingo and raffles with limitations on frequency and prize values. There is also a state lottery.

There were times that gas stations and bars offered video poker. Those games were phased out in 2006. Sweepstakes machines that resembled video poker and slots appeared for years after that. Those devices were eventually banned under state law.

Paying Gambling Taxes in North Carolina

Did you know that your gambling income is taxable? OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos has gathered everything you need to know about paying taxes on your gambling winnings straight from a Certified Public Accountant. For more information please visit our exclusive Gambling Taxes article.

Types of North Carolina Online Gambling Allowed

No online gamblingThere are no forms of legal online gambling in North Carolina. Online poker, casino and sports betting sites that accept North Carolina players are not licensed.

Daily fantasy sites accept players from North Carolina. The assertion by these companies is that the contests are skilled games and not gambling. While many other states have declared otherwise, North Carolina officials have not done so. DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo!, and CBS Sports are the major daily fantasy sports sites that accept players from North Carolina.

Types of Live North Carolina Gambling

Popular games iconPopular Games
  • Slots: Yes
  • Blackjack: Yes
  • Poker: Yes
  • Craps/Roulette: Yes
  • Horses: No
  • Lottery: Yes

There are three types of live gambling in North Carolina. The most exciting type are the North Carolina casinos, Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. Both of these North Carolina casinos offer a full range of casino games like slots, video poker, electronic poker tables, craps, roulette, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker, Let it Ride and baccarat. Harrah’s Cherokee also has a big poker room. These are the only two casinos in North Carolina where these games are legal.

Players on the east side of the state will find riverboat casinos that leave the Little River Inlet. These are just across the state line in South Carolina. The same games are offered on these North Carolina casino boats.

There is a state lottery in North Carolina. Scratch-off and lotto tickets are sold at thousands of convenience stores throughout the state. Games include interstate drawings like Powerball and Mega Millions.

Charities, which include senior, educational, religious, fraternal and veterans organizations, may offer bingo and raffle games. These types of games have very low limits in terms of stakes.

North Carolina gambling lawsNorth Carolina gambling laws had two clashes with gray area gambling. State law addresses these issues and others. Video poker found its way through the back door in the 1990’s. The state finally banned these games not long after the state lottery launched. Possession of any video poker device in North Carolina is a misdemeanor. Repeat offenders or those caught in possession of five or more machines commit a felony.

Creative operators rolled out sweepstakes machines in an attempt to replace video poker revenue. The state outlawed these devices. The operation of a sweepstakes café where players enjoy games that mimic slots, and video poker is a misdemeanor.

The North Carolina Lotteryis only permitted to sell scratch-off tickets and hold lotto drawings. These sales may only occur at retailers and not over the Internet.

Charity Gambling Laws

Charities may only spread bingo twice per week. Prizes may not exceed $500. Raffles may be operated twice per year. The maximum cash prize is $10,000. The maximum non-cash prize is $50,000. Small stakes bingo with prizes under $10 is legal for anybody to operate. This is considered to be a social game.

North Carolina Casino Gambling Laws

North Carolina casinos may only be operated on Cherokee tribe land. Electronic games must require skill unless they fall under a raffle or bingo format. Some slots use a lock and roll format, meaning that a player holds reels and re-spins. Keno game must use a double up feature; the game will drop 10 numbers and ask the player if they would like to double their bet.

The minimum gambling age in North Carolina is 18 years for lottery and charity gaming. North Carolina casino minimum gambling age is 21 years. There is no minimum gambling age for charity and social gaming players.

List of North Carolina Casinos

There are only two North Carolina casinos that are only allowed to be operated by the Cherokee tribe. There are other gambling venues that are used for lottery and charity casino events.

North Carolina Cherokee Casinos

Harrahs Cherokee North Carolina CasinosHarrah’s Cherokee is a massive resort. It is located in Cherokee, which is west of Asheville and south of Maggie Valley. There are more than 150,000 square feet of casino space and 1,100 hotel rooms. Games include slots, video poker, live poker, electronic table games, electronic poker tables, craps, roulette, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker, Let it Ride and baccarat.

The second Cherokee casino called Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River opened near Murphy in 2015. The same games are offered at this casino as the main one in Cherokee. The only difference is that it is on a smaller scale. Harrah’s Thunder Valley River is about one hour closer to most parts of Atlanta, the largest market served by North Carolina casinos.

There is a high-stakes bingo hall on the Cherokee Reservation. Below you will find a list of North Carolina casinos with their location and contact information. Use our North Carolina casinos map to better help locate these popular gambling venues.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort – Cherokee3,500 Slot Machines777 Casino
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Hotel & Casino – Murphy1,000 Slot Machines777 Casino
Cherokee Tribal Bingo – CherokeeOnly Bingo91 Bingo Loop

The only other options for gambling in North Carolina are on a much smaller level. Lottery tickets may be purchased at gas stations throughout the state. There are dozens of bingo parlors in North Carolina. These can operate no more than twice a week.

North Carolina Casinos Map & Guide

Top North Carolina Casinos
  • Harrah’s Cherokee
  • Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River
  • 2
  • 1
  • 2

History of North Carolina Gambling

North Carolina casinos historyAll forms of gambling were illegal in North Carolina until 1945. That is when the state legalized bingo and raffles for charities. Video poker infiltrated the state in the 1990’s. That is around the same time it became a major industry in South Carolina.

The state legislature tried to address some of the video poker problems in 2000 when South Carolina banned video poker. That is when a moratorium on new machines entering the state was created.

Some operators avoided this by simply transferring serial numbers from one device that failed to a new one. The 2000 law also capped the number of machines to three per establishment. Some operators decided to build video malls full of three machine-rooms. There was also a limit of $10 in prizes. Cash could not be paid. Many operators ignored this law altogether. It was obvious in some establishments because the machines took bills up to $20. Clearly, nobody would pay $20 to win a maximum of $10.

Video poker had to be incidental to a business. Many North Carolina video poker establishments were tobacco shops or small convenience stores. A majority of the money still came from gambling.

Enforcement of video poker laws varied from one county to another. It was up to the sheriff. Paying cash on video poker was only a misdemeanor. It was hardly a deterrent to illegal video poker facilities. Few were busted. Hardly anybody served jail time.

Video Poker Regulation

The state legislature had enough of this. It attempted for years to outlaw the games. Video poker operators lobbied heavily and donated to many political campaigns. Voters approved a state lottery in 2005. The following year, the North Carolina Legislature decided to phase out video poker. Businesses were forced to drop to two machines on October 1, 2006. In March 2007, the machines had to drop to one in any business. By July 1, 2007, all machines were forced to go dark. Most businesses unplugged the games once the requirement dropped to one. The courts upheld multiple challenges to the video poker ban.

Creative video poker operators decided to launch sweepstakes cafes. These were internet cafes that spread slots and video poker. Players would buy computer time and get to play free games where money could be won. The legal theory behind the games was that players were not paying to enter the games, they were paying for computer time.

The games first appeared in 2007. The state legislature outlawed them in 2010. The sweepstakes cafes challenged the ban and were permitted to remain in operation while it worked its way through the courts. The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2013. Not satisfied with that ruling, the sweepstakes industry appealed to the N.C. Court of Appeals and lost again.

It was up to local law enforcement to contact owners and demand closure. This caused machines to linger well into 2015 as some sheriff departments were less motivated than others.

Native American Casinos

The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians negotiated a gaming pact with the state in 1994. High stakes real money bingo with video poker opened in a temporary facility in 1995. Harrah’s Cherokee held its grand opening in August 1997. The games were all slots that required skill, video poker, keno that required skill and electronic table games. A new gaming compact in 2013 permitted live table games to be spread at the two North Carolina casinos. That is when craps, roulette and house-banked table games were rolled out at Harrah’s Cherokee. The poker room maintained its PokerPro electronic tables until 2014. That is when some live tables were installed for higher limit games and World Series of Poker circuit events. The hybrid room remains today.

Harrah’s Cherokee was dry for the first 16 years of its existence. No alcohol was sold. Tribal members approved the sale of alcohol in 2009. It began to pour in 2010. Harrah’s Cherokee and Thunder Valley River do not comp drinks to players.

The Cherokee Indians were able to place land near Murphy into a trust. This permitted it to obtain a second gaming compact for a casino. It is called Harrah’s Thunder River Valley River. It opened in September 2015. The same games are spread at Harrah’s Thunder River Valley River as Harrah’s Cherokee. It is just smaller than the main resort. The two casinos are about one hour apart.

The only other form of gambling in North Carolina is a state lottery. It passed the state legislature on August 31, 2005. It required a tie-breaking vote from Lt. Gov. Bev Purdue in the state senate. Two state senators that were opposed to the lottery were absent. The first lottery ticket was sold on November 29, 2006.

North Carolina Casinos & Gambling FAQ

What is the minimum gambling age in North Carolina?

The minimum North Carolina gambling age is 21 years for casino players, 18 years for lottery players, and there is no minimum gambling age for bingo or raffles.

What games are legal at Harrah’s Cherokee?

Harrah’s and its sister casino Harrah’s Thunder Valley River offer slots, video poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and house-banked card games.

Are there any poker rooms in North Carolina?

Harrah’s Cherokee offers a live poker room. Some tables are electronic. Those are used for lower stake games.

Does Harrah’s Thunder Valley River have a poker room?

No. Players must go to Harrah’s Cherokee.

How far apart are Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Thunder River Valley?

The two casinos are just over one hour apart. The distance is 56 miles.

Is there a lottery in North Carolina?

Yes. It sells scratch-off and lotto tickets.

Is there horse racing in North Carolina?


Is online gambling legal in North Carolina?

There are no forms of online gambling that are legal in the state.

Are daily fantasy sports contests legal in North Carolina?

The law is silent on the issue. The sites claim to be skill contests and not gambling.

What daily fantasy sites accept North Carolina players?

DraftKings, FanDuel, CBS Sports and Yahoo! are the largest sites that accept North Carolina daily fantasy sports players.

Is video poker legal in North Carolina?

No. It was outlawed in 2006. The last legal machines were unplugged by July 1, 2007.

Are sweepstakes cafes legal in North Carolina?

No. The North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals upheld the 2010 ban initiated by the state legislature.

What casino is closest to Atlanta?

Harrah’s Thunder River Valley is the closest casino to Atlanta. It is about two hours away.