In an effort to get ahead of any potential future competition from neighboring Georgia, the Eastern Band Of The Cherokee Nation has announced that it is investigating the possibility of opening a third casino in North Carolina.

According to an article from Patrick Lambert, Principal Chief for the Eastern Band Of The Cherokee Nation, published in the Cherokee One Feather newspaper, the tribe used its inaugural Project Development Summit on June 20 to discuss the plan as a way to further diversify the local economy.

Lambert revealed that the tribe is looking into the possibility of spending up to $61 million in order to construct a 200-room casino hotel complete with a 150-seat restaurant alongside a 25,000 sq ft gaming floor offering 250 slots and 20 table games. He stated that the enterprise for the town of Cherokee is projected to “conservatively” bring in annual revenues of $37 million, which would equate to an additional $12 million a year for the tribe after the initial five-year payback.

“Every day we turn away customers from the casino because we don’t have enough hotel rooms to put them in and with another casino here in town we could easily defer them to our other property,” read the article by Lambert. “It is an idea with a lot of merit and is worthy of more discussion.”

The Eastern Band Of The Cherokee Nation already owns Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino And Hotel, both of which are operated by Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corporation, with Lambert declaring that a smaller “overflow” boutique-style property on its reservation could help the tribe “get ahead of any other potential competition”.

“Under the compact with North Carolina we have three casinos authorized,” read Lambert’s article. “Remember, many other tribes have multiple casinos such as the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma [with] nine casinos [and the] Seminoles in Florida [with] five casinos. As we have seen, the second casino we built in Murphy has already added great value to our bottom line and per capita.”

Lambert stated that the tribe is moreover discussing the possibility of partnering with The Cordish Companies to develop a new retail outlet next to its Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. The official wrote that this venue could offer “all the name brand stores you can think of” such as Under Armor, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Gap, Guess and DKNY.

“We have always had to drive for over an hour to buy a suit or a dress but with this new development we could finally have those retail stores right here in Cherokee,” read Lambert’s article. “This will not only provide us with new jobs and a new diversified tax base for our Tribal Levy but will also add a newer and higher quality of life to our overall community by providing the type of amenities in shopping and retail that we have all come to need and expect.”