Do you know the way to Cherokee?

Published 9:01 am Monday, May 21, 2018

My mother had this uncanny way of picking winning race horses whenever we went to tracks in West Virginia or Delaware. She had a simple system really: if the horse or the jockey looked good to her, or she liked the color of their silks, that was the one to wager; and she won nine out of ten times.

I bring that up not because of the running of the Preakness Stakes horse race in Maryland this weekend, but because now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the gambling ban, I want to head to a casino as fast as my visions-of riches-and-sugar plums-dancing-in-my-head can carry me.

Thing is, the closest fulltime, bring-your-wallet-and-prepare-to-have-it-stuffed-or-skinned casino is in Cherokee, located on the far-fringes of the ol’ North State, hard by the Tennessee and Georgia state lines.

I just don’t want to end up like Mr. Terry Watanabe. He went to a Vegas casino and lost $127 million (maybe it’s me, but if I had $127 million, why would I NEED to gamble!?!). He then claimed the casino had plied him with liquor on purpose to keep him from realizing how much money he was losing. I guess he didn’t know there’s a reason why at most gambling holes – even the holes-in-the-wall – the liquor is either cheap, or free. Next time, sir, order a Diet Coke.

Then there was the woman in Arizona who won a one-shot $120,000 jackpot drawing. When asked to show up at the casino with her passport to collect her winnings, they found she was in the country illegally, and she was deported back to Mexico. How does that line go? It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I’m sure Mirna Valenzuela probably wouldn’t agree.

Speaking of fleeing – or is it, fleecing? – the country, maybe ‘down-under’ is where I need to go. A Burmese man sat down to a high stakes game at a casino in Australia with a significant leg up on the competition: seems he had somehow hacked into the casino’s security cameras, which record every hand played by each player. His partner communicated the opponent gamblers’ hole cards to him in real time from a hotel room through an earpiece and he went on a million-dollar roll. Well, he got caught and the amazing thing is that after authorities found out, he was allowed to leave the casino (and the country) with his winnings. Now that’s not a bad bet.

Then there’s New Jersey grandmother Patricia Demauro, who could write a whole new book on ‘badass’. This lady had been playing the slot machines in Atlantic City, only to get bored and decided to shoot craps (dice) instead. This was only her second time ever playing but she shook ‘em up, blew on her fist and rolled the dice a total of 154 times over the next four and a half hours – winning every single time. This represents the longest ever roll in craps and the most dice rolls in a row without ‘sevening out’. I don’t have to tell you that Granny Patty never told her family how much she won and gives new meaning to the cliché: “I’m spending my grandchildren’s inheritance”.

And bored granny beating those hard-bitten pros pales in comparison to Ashley Revell, who has to be the fastest big winner in casino history. He quite literally went for broke by cashing in all his worldly possessions and draining his bank account, then betting it all on a single spin of the roulette wheel. Somewhere, somehow, God once again looked out for fools because thanks to Black-36, Revell won and walked away with a cool $272,000 – ensuring that he can rub in the face of everybody who called him crazy with the swankiest and best outfitted padded cell in the lunatic asylum.

As of today, North Carolina hasn’t considered any sports gambling legislation that’ll give us any stories like these, and according to General Assembly members that were polled, speaking anonymously, they probably won’t take it up for quite a while.

I figure that would be just long enough for me to hitch hike my way to Cherokee. I might even ‘gamble’ that by the time we get sports betting in the state I could walk all the way there. Look out, Momma, here I come!


Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.