After a Tribal Council vote of 8-2 last week, EBCI Holdings is approved to bid on two casinos outside the state of North Carolina. The company is the business arm of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The resolution is known as Project Thoroughbred and is a new business and investment plan for the tribe. As much as $25 million can be invested in an equity stake for commercial gaming expansion.

More Details on the Plan

EBCI Holdings plans to bid on projects and if selected, $2.5 million within its own accounts would be deposited for the project. According to sources, the tribe would then use $25 million from endowment and investment accounts. This amount would be plus or minus 10% with the funds added to the project, be it directly or indirectly.

It has been estimated that the entire project will cost $90 million. It involves constructing and owning two new casinos outside of North Carolina. The company has plans to secure around $62 million in debt financing. Additional details of the plan, such as where revenues from the casinos will be allocated, have yet to be provided.

EBCI Holdings board member and Secretary of Finance, Cory Blankenship, commented that the plan allows the tribe to go into a new state and have gaming property based on a partnership agreement. The tribe will not be on the hook 100% for either of the two casinos. The plan is to have a 44% equity stake.

Quick Approval from the Tribal Council Members

The new plan for commercial casino projects was approved quickly via a special session. The reason being there was only a short time between when EBCI Holdings learned of the opportunity and the deadline for submitting a bid. The project is being described as a good opportunity for the tribe to become involved with two gaming properties within a new jurisdiction at a low cost of entry.

According to a board member, the company is in the lead for earning the project, though other companies are in the running. Supposedly, the reputation of the Eastern Band, including its 30-year track record of responsibility in the industry is helping its cause.

It will be interesting to learn more about the two casinos, including where they are and who the tribe would be working with. Currently, the tribe offers casino services in North Carolina via the Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino and the Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel.