Are Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Video Poker and Slot Machines Fair?

My recent trip to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in North Carolina has left me with some major questions regarding their slot and video poker machines.

I’ve always felt that video poker and slot machines that were in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and even Tunica and Biloxi, MS were regulated and you had nothing to worry about.  I felt it was too much of a risk for a casino to lose their gambling license if they were found to have tampered with any of the machines.

I know casinos have been caught doing this in the past, but I feel the major casinos in these areas are on the up and up.  However, I’m not so sure about casinos that are on Indian reservations such as Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in North Carolina

Indian reservation casinos vary between class II and class III style video poker and slot machines.  Class III is considered “Vegas-Style” and are the same machines you would find in Vegas and AC and run on what’s called a “Random Number Generator” or “RNG.”  Class II are called virtual lottery terminals and all the outcomes are predetermined.  Any winning gambler should stay away from Class II machines.

One of my base casinos is Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.  I’ve been playing there for several years, but my concerns have begun to grow.  I do believe their Game King video poker machines are class III because I believe Game King only makes class III machines (Update: Come to find out this isn’t true Game King does make class II machines).  My problem is who regulates these machines?

How to win at Slot Machines

In Las Vegas, there is an agency that overseas casinos and sends people out to periodically test the machines and make sure they are in compliance.  In North Carolina I don’t know of such an agency.  I know there was a state law that kept Harrah’s Cherokee from having live dealers with real cards, the cards were computerized (law has been changed live dealers will be coming to Cherokee), but who makes sure their machines are not fixed?  I know there is a minimum payback percentage in NC, but who makes sure it is followed.

My personal concern is their video poker machines.  If they are class II machines the pay-table on the machine is basically meaningless.  Class II video poker machines should never be played, they are preset as to their payout.

I’ve been on a heavy losing streak at Harrah’s Cherokee, in fact it is the only casino I am in the negative for over the last several years, other than the Palms in Vegas which I only visited once.  Of course that could just be coincidental, but I’m beginning to wonder.

I’ve always said Casinos have no reason to fix the machines because they are already programmed to their advantage.  However, this case is different.  Video Poker payback percentages are supposed to be based on the pay-table and they have some high payback machines, so there is incentive to “fix” the machine.

Anybody out there who knows the gaming laws in North Carolina and who regulates and tests the machines to make sure they are fair and run on a Random Number Generator (RNG), please let me know.  Until I find some proof, I remain skeptical and will stop playing at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in North Carolina.

About Greg Elder

I was 37 years old, a husband and father, a former teacher, college and high school basketball coach, and a business owner, I decided to give it all up (Not the husband and father part) to take a shot at pro gambling. I was coming off a job I hated selling insurance, and I vowed to do something I was passionate about. For the next year I would spend 12-15 hours a day researching, studying, and practicing advantage gambling techniques. The goal was to see if I could sustain our current lifestyle as a professional gambler. I wanted to find out if casinos really could be beat. At the time, I thought it may be the biggest mistake of my life, but my intentions were to have fun trying. It has been an interesting few years since that journey began. My feature book GAMBLERS FIGHT BACK has been released and can be purchased on my author site at I would consider my pro gambling career to be a success on all fronts. I didn't win millions of dollars, but I was able to enjoy every minute of it. It brought an excitement and passion back into my professional life. It has helped lead me to a writing career that I had no idea I even wanted before this challenge. I was able to write a book that shared with others exactly what I learned along the way.. Gambling professionally is not easy, but there are certain things the average gambler can do to increase their chances of success tremendously. That's the information I try to pass along to my readers.

16 Responses to “Are Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Video Poker and Slot Machines Fair?”

  1. I am interested in finding out who and if someone regulates the Indian reservation casinos also. Please post if you find out any information about this. I would feel so cheated if they were not regulated!!

  2. I’m pretty sure that in order to have a tribal casino the federal statutes require that a “tribal” gaming commission be set up. I know at cherokee, nc Harrahs there is a ‘tribal’ gaming commission that regulates the operations. I think it is somewhat like the fox guarding the hen house but it is what it is. Years ago, when Gov. Hunt was in office the tribal/state compact dictated minimum slot payout percentages but those stipulations and laws were overturned at the federal level. There are no minimum payout levels required, the only limit is what the market will bear. An in Cherokee Harrah’s case, there is NO competition in the area so it will bear a lot.

    • Thanks for the great info. I had no idea about the law being overturned. There seems to be a lot of ambiguity around tribal gaming. I think people need to be made aware of the fact that they are self-regulated with no over-site. I’ll do my best to get the word out. Let me know if you come across anything else about Cherokee. Thanks again.

  3. I live in NC and I just returned from Cherokee last week and what is unusual, in my last two trips I talked with some major players (waiting in lines,etc.) and I think it is common knowledge that Harrah’s pays a fine (not sure if it’s monthly, annually, etc.) for not meeting the states minimum payout requirement…. if the above poster is correct and the law has been overturned, then I think that indicates to me to find a new place to play. It does appear to me as a player that Cherokee pays out the least … and I’ve often wondered why… Now I Know.
    I haven’t had the opportunity to check on the above as it’s not easy finding out information like this…. if it at all minutely true, I think there should be a conserted effort to make it public …after all, what better way to bring Cherokee up to ‘regular’ standards, is to hit them where it hurts, their pocket book….
    If anyone has any definate information about the above…. wud love to hear from you.

    • I’m with you, Rich. You’re right it is very difficult to get accurate information about this situation. That’s the only reason I haven’t put out a full-blown attack is because I want to make sure I have all the facts. I’m also trying to find out about other Indian gaming reservations, and see if this is just Cherokee or all Indian gaming. I have a book being published that exposes many of the casino’s tactics and I’ve thought about putting a chapter on Indian gaming and the lack of oversight (Cherokee in particular) to get the word out, but like I said I just don’t feel like I have all the facts.

      That’s stay on this and hopefully we will get all the facts. You’re right the best way to hurt them is in their pocketbooks, and that’s through negative publicity. I’m sure the Raleigh Observer or the Charlotte paper would be interested in what we find. Thanks for the info., keep in touch.

  4. A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.

    There’s no doubt that that you ought to publish more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people do not discuss these topics.
    To the next! Many thanks!!

  5. I have never won anything in Cherokee. I live in Atlanta and have gone there many time. Save your money…don’t go to Cherokee. Save your money and gamble in downtown Las Vegas

    • Thanks, Bud. Yes, I have much more confidence in Vegas casinos over Cherokee. I have no idea what regulations Harrah’s Cherokee follows and what kind of oversight there is.

  6. Hello. I am from Las Vegas Nevada. I lived there ,most of my life.I think I can tell the difference from Las Vegas Machines and the Indian Gaming machines here in Prescott Arizona. Even thought they (Arizona machines) seem like they are class III machines, the payout is usually poor or non existent and consistently the same. I am not able to find proof that the machines In Yavapai county are are regulated properly. Based on the weekly observations for approximately one year of playing every weekend, I can make some conclusions. I live in Prescott Arizona. The casino that my husband and I play at are Bucky’s and Yavapai. The two mentioned casinos are owned by the same Indian Tribe. We play nickel Cleopatra Keno machines.

    Also, there is some information out there about lobbyists and lawmakers with tribal members and decisions made about who regulates the casino and I am still confused. I think it would be a good thing for more people to investigate and unravel the truth behind Indian Gaming. The Indian Gaming makes billions of dollars of revenue. It would be even more tragic if they are stealing money from the public in some way and no one is able to prove it!

    • Hello,

      Thanks for the great comment. I totally agree. There needs to be more transparency in relation to Indian gaming. You’re right. The information available to the public is limited and it is frustrating trying to find out the facts. Patrons need to have confidence that the machines they are playing are fair.

  7. I have played slots in Vegas, Tunica, Biloxi, Indiana, & Cherokee and Cherokee is the only place I have never won or even broke even. Cherokee & the Golden Nugget in Vegas are the worst slots I’ve ever played. I think that NC lets Harrah’s cheat for payoffs. There are too many losers to be fair.

  8. i have been to cherokee many times and they have the tightest slots of any casino that i have played at . there is no way they are paying out what they should be paying out and i don’t think they mind being fined .just leave your money at the door when you go to harrah’s cherokee to save yourself time as you will be leaving it there if you play the slots .

  9. Thanks for sharing information i think the authority will give a look around it soon.

    • I hope you’re right. The problem with native american casinos is the primary oversight committee is the tribal council made up of native americans. They basically police themselves in many aspects. They are not subject to the same laws as regular businesses and casinos. We’ll see if the state keeps a closer eye on them but I doubt it. They are the only casino in the state so the state doesn’t want to cut their supply line of money. The incentive isn’t there. Harrahs is expanding and building another casino on native american land about 30-50 miles away. They are one of the few casinos that continues to be able to expand despite the economic recession starting in 2007.

  10. It has been very interesting reading this blog. I too have been to Cherokee many, many times and feel what the rest of you are feeling. Unfortunately, Cherokee is the only gaming establishment to me by a loooong shot. I enjoy video poker and it is apparent that all of you do also and it would be so helpful to see some transparency in the oversight of Cherokee. They certainly have a monopoly in the gaming world in NC. I was sorry to see NC close the internet gaming facilities; I enjoyed playing there and actually did pretty well over the period of time I played there. It was apparent that NC was making $$$ having them throughout the state and it provided lots of enjoyment for a retired guy like myself. Greg, thank you for providing this blog; it has been insightful and I will continue to monitor the site to see if any transparency has been or will be found concerning Harrahs Cherokee.

    • Hey Harold,

      Thanks for the great comment. Sorry it took me so long to post it, missed it for some reason. As I uncover new info. about Cherokee I will post it. Good to hear from you. Wish you the best and many royal flushes. Take care.

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