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Senate approves casino changes

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RALEIGH -- State lawmakers began the process of expanding gaming opportunities on the Cherokee Indian reservation in western North Carolina. A proposal was approved by the full Senate on the first day of session that would allow live action gaming, which means cards could be used instead of electronics, in the Cherokee casino.

State lawmakers acknowledge the state's benefit in terms of money is fairly low-- up to $90 million over 20 years. But supporters say there could be other benefits.

"What is very important to the state, especially western North Carolina and that's why we are seeing bipartisian support for the bill, is the high unemployment rate that we have," said Sen. Tom Apodaca. "We will be able to put people to work within months and these estimates we hear are not taking into consideration payroll taxes. These are good, high paying benefit jobs."

If the full General Assembly approves this change of compact agreement with the eastern band of Cherokee, the extra money coming in to the state would be directed toward education.

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