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North Carolina Tour Operators Win with Gambling Trips

17 March 2005

RALEIGH, North Carolina – As reported by the News & Observer: "So many Triangle gamblers are packing Donnie Davis' buses to Harrah's Cherokee Casino that he's doubling the number of monthly trips. Hundreds more are driving from the Triangle and Eastern North Carolina to board the gambling ships that depart Myrtle Beach, S.C., twice daily. And jetliners full of high rollers bound for Las Vegas, Atlantic City or Caribbean gaming tables now lift off from Raleigh-Durham International Airport almost daily.

"…The boom is being fueled by the increasing numbers of retired baby boomers with cash to burn and the proliferation and popularity of TV poker tournaments.

"Gambling isn't legal in North Carolina, but it's big business and rapidly getting even bigger. Each week, tour operators and transportation companies shuttle hundreds of people to high-stakes games in Vegas or the two acres of video betting machines in Cherokee, which is an exception to state law. Theirs is a year-round business and has never been better.

"…No one keeps statistics on local gamblers, but the number of people traveling to the casinos has doubled or tripled in recent years, local representatives of the casinos said.

"…Still, most of the Triangle's gambling traffic is out of RDU, where at least 170 junkets left last year for casinos in Mississippi, Atlantic City, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Louisiana and Nevada, said airport director John Brantley. Most of the junkets are organized by casino companies such as Bally's or Harrah's and use full-sized Boeing 727 and 737 jetliners. About 1,600 gamblers will fly out of RDU this month alone…"

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