Alabama Bill Would Hand Poarch Creek Indians Casino Exclusivity, Legalize State Lottery

Posted on: March 10, 2020, 01:40h. 

Last updated on: March 10, 2020, 02:37h.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) wants to conduct an in-depth review of the merits of legalizing casino gambling. But one state senator wants to fast-track the process.

Alabama casino Poarch Band Creek Indians
Alabama Sen. Greg Albritton favors the Poarch Band of Creek Indians having a monopoly on full-scale casino gambling in the state. (Image: Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advisor)

Introduced by state Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Range), SB282 seeks to amend the Alabama Constitution to allow its lone federally recognized tribe to obtain exclusive rights to casino-style gambling, including sports betting. To be enacted, the legislation would need to pass the legislature, gain Ivey’s signature, and then be approved in a statewide voter referendum.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians operates three Native American Class I and II gaming facilities in the Cotton State: Wind Creek Atmore, Wind Creek Montgomery, and Wind Creek Wetumpka.

The tribe has pitched the state a “$1 billion plan” to acquire exclusive rights to operate Class III gaming (slot machines and table games). The Poarch Indians have pledged $725 million in licensing and compact fees, and $350 million in projected tax revenue.

Albritton’s legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Tourism Committee, gives them all they want and more, and potentially at a discounted rate.

Poarch Senator

Albritton has been representing the Poarch Creek Indians (PCI) for years in the Montgomery capital. He’s often referred to by his peers as the “senator from Poarch Creek.”

They [PCI] are the economic engine of this area. We don’t have Mercedes. We don’t even have Airbus,” Albritton said regarding the state’s major manufacturing plants.

SB282, however, might afford a sweeter deal than what the tribe initially proposed last November. Albritton’s bill would require the PCI to only pay licensing fees on two new casinos.

The legislation allows the Indians to construct two new casinos – one in Jefferson County, and another in either Marshall, Jackson, or DeKalb – for an initial licensing fee of $250 million each. Gross gaming revenue would be taxed at 25 percent.

The tribe’s present facilities would all be permitted to transition into full-scale Class III casinos free of a licensing fee.

Instead, SB282 requires that the three Wind Creek casinos enter into a gaming compact with the state that requires them to share an undetermined percentage of their slot machine and table game revenue.

Bill Targets Bingo, Racetracks

Along with potentially giving the tribe exclusive rights to casino gambling for less than the proposed $1 billion, SB282 would impose a new 25 percent state tax on dog racetracks.

Alabama Political Reporter columnist Bill Britt opined that it’s “a tactic designed to force the parimutuel tracks out of business. PCI, in the meantime, would continue paying zero taxes on its three existing casinos, but would pay the 25 percent rate on any new casinos it opens off of trust lands.”

The legislation does allow the state to commence lottery operations. Along with various intrastate games, including scratch-offs and daily drawings, SB282 would allow the state to participate in multistate games – most notably Powerball and Mega Millions.

Net gaming revenue from the formation of the Alabama Lottery would be earmarked for public education. Alabama is one of only five states without a lottery.