A serious issue
North Carolina health officials are looking into a cluster of coronavirus cases at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Jackson County after five of the casino’s workers tested positive within two weeks of each other.
According to a Monday news release from the Jackson County Department of Public Health, the infected employees work on the casino’s table games. The staff members are currently following the mandatory isolation requirements.
defines a cluster as a workplace where there have been at least five confirmed cases of the virus inside of a two-week period
The North Carolina Division of Public Health defines a cluster as a workplace where there have been at least five confirmed cases of the virus inside of a two-week period and where there is a linkage between those who were infected.
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Response to this cluster
Harrah’s Cherokee regional manager Brooks Robinson said: “Based on information provided by the employees and video surveillance records, no other employees or customers have been identified as close contacts as defined by the CDC.”
He went on to say that the workers who tested positive and those who have shown symptoms or have been in close contact with other positive cases are not allowed to return to work until the self-isolation period has been completed.
The casino is still open for business despite the presence of the cluster. Robinson said that all of its employees have received proper training on sanitizing and cleaning techniques since reopening.
Concern for the casino
The casino had initially shut down its operations because of the pandemic on March 18 along with the only other tribal casino in the state, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel. Both of the properties are operated by Caesars Entertainment and owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino opened its doors on May 28 at 30% capacity, requiring all workers to wear masks and implementing social distancing protocols on the casino floor.
The casino also said in May that it would be conducting daily health checks on all workers. To date, there have been almost 280 confirmed coronavirus cases and three deaths confirmed in Jackson County. In North Carolina as a whole, there have been more than 101,000 confirmed cases and 1,676 deaths.
Gaming on the Cherokee reservation started with a high stakes bingo hall in the early 1990’s. Bingo became so popular that a casino was considered. As North Carolina permitted video poker for prizes, the Cherokees felt they could legally offer video poker. After a win in federal court, this was approved.
Harrah’s Cherokee opened in 1997 with about 500 video poker machines, making it one of the oldest casinos in North Carolina. Since the 1990s, it has since exploded into one of the largest casinos in the United States. It has a geographic monopoly with its sister casino in Murphy, NC, both of which are operated by Caesars on behalf of the Cherokee.
The small sister property is known as Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. It is the closest casino for most players in North and South Carolina, as well as parts of Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.
There are 3,280 slots, 122 table games, 24 electronic table games and 20 poker tables available at Harrah’s Cherokee. There are three hotel towers with a total of 1,215 rooms, of which 107 are suites. There are 12 restaurants at Harrah’s Cherokee. Entertainment options include Essence Nightclub, Multi-tainment Center and showroom where national artists perform music and comedy.
Casino at Harrah’s Cherokee[table “” not found /]
Harrah’s Cherokee spreads 3,280 machines on 150,000 square feet of casino space. Most of these games are video or reel slots. There are three types of video poker machines at Harrah’s Cherokee, with the most popular one being Pot O’ Gold. The favorite game on these devices is Shamrock 7’s, which plays like Joker Poker except there is a bonus for making three or more sevens in a hand. If that occurs, players are taken to a bonus screen where they pick a pot of gold. The win ranges from six to thirty times the base bet plus the value of the hand. Five of a kind has a progressive jackpot on this game.
Pot O’ Gold Machines
Pot O’ Gold are multi-game machines and typically have several other games on them. These include two other Joker Poker variants, Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild and 8-Ball Poker.
The 8-Ball game plays like Shamrock 7’s in that a player gets to a bonus round by making three or more eights. Pot O’ Golds have progressive jackpots. All joker games hit a jackpot on five of a kind. The other video poker games pay the progressive on a royal flush. An eight-coin bet is required to qualify for the progressive jackpot. Denominations are quarter, half-dollar and dollar.
Keno is another game on Pot O’ Golds. The versions are Toucheasy Keno and Superball Keno. These have huge progressive that pay on an eight, nine or ten-spot, as well as hitting 8 out of 9 or 9 out of 10.
In terms of RTP, the best game on any machine at Harrah’s Cherokee is Black Gold. It is an electronic blackjack variation, and there are 20 of these games near the gift shop. Bets are accepted in even amounts from $2 to $50. Players may double down on 9, 10 and 11 but not after splitting. The dealer stands on all 17s, split aces may be hit and the player automatically wins on a six-card charlie. The dealer must stand if the machine draws six cards and does not bust.
Most of the other video poker machines are Game Kings. These are standard IGT devices with games like Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker Deluxe. Denominations are quarter, half-dollar, dollar, two-dollar and five-dollar. The best video poker game is Not-so-ugly-deuces (99.73%). It is available on the $5 denomination machines in the high limit salon. This game is a great way to achieve high Total Rewards tiers.
The other video poker machines are made by Interblock. They include Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus and video roulette and craps.
There are 122 table games at Harrah’s Cherokee. More than half of those tables are eight-deck blackjack. I shot sheriff chords. The games on the main casino floor have $10 to $1,000 limits. Players may double down before and after splitting. The dealer hits soft 17. High limit games use six decks and run from $50 to $2,000.
The back high limit room’s blackjack tables stand on all 17s. The minimum for that game is either $200 or $500, depending on the time of day. All live blackjack games at Harrah’s Cherokee pay 3-2.
Other Table Games at Harrah’s Cherokee
Ultimate Texas Hold’em: $5 to $50 (2)
High Card Flush: $5 to $200 (2)
Mississippi Stud: $5 to $25 (4)
Pai Gow Poker: $10 to $1,000 (4)
Big Wheel: $2 to $100 (2)
00 Roulette: $10 to $300 (11)
Craps 10x odds: $10 to $3,000 (9)
Baccarat: $25 to $5,000 (5)
Three Card Poker: $10 to $300 (8)
Let it Ride: $10 to $300 (8)
Crazy 4 Poker: $10 to $200 (2)
There are two stadium gaming setups. One is live and deals baccarat and double zero roulette. Baccarat has $25 to $1,000 limits while the roulette game has $5 to $300 limits. These games are dealt simultaneously.
The other stadium gaming setup is all virtual games. It has $1 to $100 blackjack that pays 6-5, $1 to $2,000 craps with double odds and $0.25 to $100 double zero roulette. There are separate video craps and roulette machines with the same limits and rules on the main casino floor.
Poker at Harrah’s Cherokee
There is a 20-table poker room on the second floor. The main games are 1/2 No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. The buy-in is $100 to $200 for both games. Busier hours will see 2/5 limits for those games with $200 to $1,000 buy-ins.
There are 14 No Limit Texas Hold’em tournaments each week. There is an $80 tournament at 7 PM and $45 one at 10 PM Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, the tournaments are $135 at 7 PM and $80 on 10 PM. The Saturday tournament is $250 and starts at 11 AM. On Sundays, there is an $80 tournament at 10 AM and 7 PM, as well as a $250 one at 2 PM.
Total Rewards Player Program
Harrah’s Cherokee uses Total Rewards for its loyalty program. This is used at all Caesars Entertainment properties in the country, including Cherokee’s sister property near Murphy, North Carolina. Guests can receive separate offers that include free play, hotel rooms and food comps. This can make it advantageous to play at both properties on a regular basis.
Free play is sent by mail in the form of slot tickets. Guests can reprint these on kiosks if they are left at home.
New Total Rewards players start out at Gold. Once 5,000 tier points are earned in a calendar year, Platinum is awarded. It requires 15,000 tier points for Diamond and 150,000 for Seven Stars.
Platinum players receive line passes at the buffet and cashier cage. Diamond players receive access to the Diamond Lounge and receive a $100 celebration dinner each year. Seven Stars players get a private area in the Diamond Lounge with a separate entrance. They also get a $500 annual dinner and a separate trip worth up to $1,200 in airfare and $500 in meals. Platinum and higher receive free parking in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
It may be worth giving substantial action in a day as opposed it spreading it out. That is because there are bonus points for earning a certain number of tier points between 6 AM and 6 AM daily. If you earn 500 tier credits, you’ll get a 125 bonus. Earn 1,000 and receive another 1,000 bonus. A player that receives 2,500 tier credits in a day receives a 5,000 bonus. To get Diamond in a day, earn 5,000 tier credits and receive another 10,000 as a bonus, which equals the number of points required for Diamond.
Dining & Restaurants at Harrah’s Cherokee
Ruth Chris Steakhouse: The main fine-dining option at Harrah’s Cherokee. It serves prime steak on 500-degree plates. There are also some seafood and chicken options, as well as a large salad, appetizer, wine and dessert menu. Ruth Chris is open for dinner daily. It is on the casino floor. However, there is a family entrance.
Brio Tuscan Grill: Located on the second floor, Brio Tuscan Grill is accessible for families. It is open for lunch and dinner. Entrée items include pasta, seafood, chicken and steak. There is also a wine list, appetizers and a dessert menu.
Noodle Bar: An Asian fusion option. It opens daily for dinner. Menu options include noodle soups and traditional Chinese appetizers and entrees. There is also a vegetarian menu.
Chefs Stage Buffet: A buffet that is opened for dinner on Monday, Thursday and Friday and lunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays. Sunday includes prime rib and crab legs. It is $34.99. All other services are $27.99. Total Rewards members receive a $2 discount per patron.
Other Dining Options
There are two cafes on the property. One is on the casino floor. The other is in the hotel. The hotel one permits minors. There is a food court with Johnny Rockets, Earl of Sandwich, Pizzeria Uno and Dunkin Donuts. Minors are not permitted in the food court.
Harrah’s Cherokee Hotspots & Venues
There are several non-gaming activities at Harrah’s Cherokee. These include golf, bowling, shows and a spa.
Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center
Harrah's Casino Free Slot Play
This venue has several entertainment options. There is a 24-lane bowling alley. The game center has a variety of arcade and redemption games. Soundbytes and Strikes Lounge are two adult-only options with full bars.
This adult-only nightclub includes 33 televisions and a 13-foot projection screen. There is a DJ every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. There is a full bar with seating both outside and inside the venue.
The event center is upstairs by the poker room. It is home to national comedy and musical acts.
Hotel at Harrah’s Cherokee
There are 1,215 hotel rooms, of which 107 are suites. There are three hotel towers on the property. Standard nightly rates start at $99 on weeknights and $499 on weekends.
The base room is a Mountain Tower with one king or two queens. For $10 additional, guests can receive a room with a view. Guests can receive a newly remodeled room in the Mountain Tower for $30 more per night, The Soco Tower starts at $119 on weeknights and $519 on weekends. A view is $10 more. Newer rooms in this tower are $20 more.
The Creek Tower is home to the newest rooms at Harrah’s Cherokee. These rooms start at $149 on weeknights and $549 on weekends. Upgraded rooms with a view are $10 more.
Hotel rooms are available in smoking and nonsmoking. Rooms have a coffee maker, 42-inch television and internet access for a fee.