Cherokee approves $275 million expansion plan for Murphy casino

After a 45-minute off-air discussion July 8, the Cherokee Tribal Council approved a $275 million master plan to expand the Valley River Casino in Murphy.

“We’re thrilled with Tribal Council’s support of the resolution and are optimistic that Chief Sneed will ratify the resolution,” said Harrah’s Regional Vice President for Marketing Brian Saunooke.

The projects included in the master plan are not named in the resolution Tribal Council passed, and the master plan itself was not made public. However, Saunooke said, “key features” will include an additional hotel tower, a new restaurant, a hotel lobby café, a spa and indoor pool, additional gaming space and additional parking.

In response to follow-up questions related to the scale and timeline of the proposed projects, Saunooke replied that the casino would reach out again “once we are at a point to share details.”

According to the resolution, the Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise selected JCJ Architecture to develop the concept design and provide a cost estimate. To fund the project, the TCGE will obtain a loan not to exceed $275 million.

The approved master plan represents an investment of more than double the $110 spent to deliver the initial facility in September 2015. The Valley River Casino & Hotel opened with 50,000 square feet of gaming space, including 1,050 slot machines, 70 table games and a food court-style dining area. In 2018, a $13 million expansion added a 41,000-square-foot entertainment area featuring bowling, arcade games and a full-service restaurant. It also added 55 gaming units and some bartop units such as video poker to the existing gaming floor. The facility also features a seven-story hotel tower with 300 rooms. As of this March, Valley River also offers sports betting .

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