A casino in Sevier County? This illicit tradition may soon see light of day

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Gambling? In Sevier County? 

I’m shocked. Shocked.

Having legalized – and profited from – one of East Tennessee’s most famous vices in moonshine, there’s a move afoot that may help take another illicit mountain tradition into the very taxable light of day.

Though it’s not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination, it appears that – if Nashville removes the legislative hurdles – we might see a casino or sports betting venue in Sevier County one day. 

In June of 2019, it was announced that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians purchased more than 100 acres of land next to Smokies stadium with an eye towards building a casino or sports betting venue. 

WVLT 8 spoke to Principal Chief Richard Sneed, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, prior to the land sale.

“The EBCI Tribal Council has approved a resolution to authorize the EBCI to purchase property in Sevierville, TN. This property, if purchased, will be utilized for future economic development for the EBCI. The location of the property lends itself to many possibilities for economic diversification for the Eastern Band, and I am excited about this opportunity,” he said. 

The EBCI owns a pair of casinos in Cherokee, North Carolina, both operated by Harrah’s. 

In May, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee allowed online sports betting to become legal in the state without signing the bill himself. Lee has expressed opposition to gambling and says casino gambling is the most harmful form of the vice. 

For now at least, brick and mortar sports gaming establishments remain outlawed in the state.

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