The company the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians formed earlier this year to purchase Caesar’s Southern Indiana Casino hopes to branch out its business interests, receiving approval from Tribal Council Dec. 9 to invest up to $12 million in gaming-related technologies and pursue construction of a sports betting bar on the tribe’s Exit 407 property in Sevier County.
“We’ve looked at over 20 companies, six of which we really like,” said Scott Barber, CEO of EBCI Holdings, Inc., of the $12 million investment. “They’re in various stages of Series A and B. Those are investment windows that are open for short periods of time.”
The $12 million investment would bolster the company’s mandate to develop commercial gaming ventures for the tribe and is also expected to yield a high rate of return, Barber said. The funds will come from the tribe’s existing investment accounts, which yield an annual return of about 10%. Barber expects that most of the anticipated investments will yield a return of three to five times the original amount once the company exits the investment.
“We’re striving for a much higher return on investment,” he said.
Most Tribal Council members supported the request, though some said they needed time to learn more before committing.
“It’s easy to prey upon people who don’t have the information and take advantage of them and that’s what I feel like,” said Big Cove Representative Teresa McCoy. “I’m not going to do it.”
The requested $10 to $12 million is a lot of money, she said, and she doesn’t feel comfortable allocating that amount to off-Boundary business efforts when there’s great need at home.
“This is $10 to $12 million, and I am not comfortable with it because I know that tonight in my community there’s going to be homeless people,” she said. “There’s going to be hungry people.”
Yellowhill Representative T.W. Saunooke disagreed, saying he sees the resolution as an opportunity to reallocate current investments to bring back a higher rate of return.
“I have an educated decision that I’m able to make based off the information that’s been given to me,” he said. “The other comments about me not knowing, I kind of take a little offense to that.”
Snowbird/Cherokee County Representative Adam Wachacha said that pursuing investments like the one proposed is crucial in light of the Catawba Indian Nation’s planned casino in Kings Mountain.
“Just imagine …….