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The Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama has offered the state a grand bargain which would afford the tribe exclusive rights on casino gambling in exchange for $1 billion. One influential lawmaker in the Montgomery capital says it’s a deal that should be strongly considered by the state.

This week at the Association of County Commissions of Alabama’s 2019 Legislative Conference, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) spoke about the issue in Auburn. The ex-police officer said the Native American’s offer would provide a tide of new revenues for the state, and stop critical gaming and lottery dollars from flowing to neighboring states.

McCutcheon stated, “I am not a big gambling guy, but if you are going to vote for a lottery, that’s gambling. Don’t be a hypocrite and let’s get the biggest bang for the buck.”

The speaker declared, “Let’s address a lottery, the Poarch Creek Indians, and these counties that want a one-armed gambling. Put them all in a room and hammer out a deal.”

Tribal Pitch

Recently the Poarch Band of Creek Indians have been criticized by a largely anonymous group claiming the tribe is taking advantage of Alabama. The Poarch Creek Accountability Now (PCAN) nonprofit says the Native Americans are not paying taxes on their gaming profits, and rather taking their cash to invest in casino projects in other states and jurisdictions.

As reported by Casino.org, earlier this year, the Alabama tribe acquired Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania for $1.3 billion. It moreover own properties in Nevada, Florida, Aruba, and Curacao.

The Poarch Indians operate three resorts in Alabama, under its Wind Creek Hospitality arm. However, the three venues only offer Class I and II gaming (ex: bingo and non-banked card games) under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The tribe’s earnings are free of state taxes.

Unless the tribe enters into a compact with its host state, IGRA doesn’t permit tribal casinos on sovereign land to operate slot machines and table games like blackjack and roulette. Alabama and the tribe haven’t done that till now.

However, the tribe is willing to negotiate now. The Poarch Indians revealed a $1 billion plan last month.

The proposal includes:

$725 million in licensing and compact fees to incorporate slots and table games at its three existing venues, plus two new casino resorts
$350 million in projected tax revenue sharing
6,500 new jobs
Allow the state to conduct a traditional lottery, but ban video lottery terminals at racetracks

The state would need to transfer the gaming rights to everything other than the lottery to the Native American group for the tribe to sign its proposal.

Strong Opposition

Alabama has opposed most forms of gambling for a long time. It’s one of just five non-lottery states remaining in the US.

Centered in the Bible Belt, Alabama hasn’t been as prepared to ease its unwavering aggression to gambling as its neighbors. Last week Mississippi debuted its lottery, Arkansas has allowed commercial casinos. Tennessee has annulled sports betting regulations, Georgia lawmakers are thinking about expanded gambling, and Kentucky just nominated a governor who ran on ending casino ban.

However, McCutcheon says too many of his constituents won’t budge in the Cotton State.

The speaker explained, “Here is the bottom line in the Republican caucus. Out of the 77 members, 18 are not for any gambling at all. It takes 63 votes to pass a constitutional amendment.”

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