Gov. Bev Perdue and the chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians signed an addendum to the state's gambling compact designed to ease lawmakers' concerns.
The signing with Perdue and Chief Michell Hicks took place in her office in a hastily assembled meeting late Tuesday afternoon. The governor's office said it was a scheduling matter with both heads of state in Raleigh at the same time but it also represents a change in language from what the Senate approved.
The 30-year agreement will allow Las Vegas-styled live-dealer card games, which are currently illegal in North Carolina. First signed in November, the Cherokees and the governor agreed to put an addendum on the compact to mollify concerns from the House Republican leadership, who face a difficult challenge collecting votes to approve legislation to enable the new games. An odd coalition of Republicans and Democrats oppose gambling, putting its passage in jeopardy.
The newest change will limit the number of gaming facilities on the Cherokee lands in five western North Carolina counties. The original compact set no limit. The Senate asked to cap it at four new facilities in addition to the existing Harrah's Cherokee Casino. But now the agreement says a total of three gambling locations are allowed.
The change is expected to help win votes but a guarantee for approval is far from certain. House lawmakers will get their first look at the compact Wednesday morning in the appropriations committee meeting at 8:30 a.m.