Poarch Band of Creek Indians Chair and CEO Stephanie A. Bryan (Photo Courtesy Poarch Band of Creek Indians)
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has long advocated for change to improve Alabama’s economy — suggesting their gaming plan would generate $1 billion for the state. According to Senator Greg Albritton (R- Atmore), the sponsor of a new bill (Senate Bill 282), this is the Poarch Band’s proposal in legislative form, reported by ABC 33/40.
The bill, which entails an amendment to Section 65 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, would pave the way for the Tribe to run five Class III gaming facilities in the state, while granting Tribal exclusivity over sports betting, as well as video lottery terminals with proceeds benefiting education.
Currently the Poarch Band’s Wind Creek Hospitality brand counts 10 properties in its portfolio, including three casino resorts in Alabama offering electronic bingo — in Atmore, Weumpka and Montgomery. Other operations include a Greyhound racing facility in Alabama, Wind Creek Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, two parimutuel tracks and poker rooms in the Florida panhandle, the Wa She Shu Casino and Travel Plaza in Nevada, and the Renaissance Aruba and Renaissance Curacao Resorts and Casinos in the Caribbean.
The proposed deal would bring Vegas-style casino games to the Tribe’s three casino properties in Alabama, while adding two more casino venues: in Jefferson County and another in North Alabama (Marshall, Jackson or DeKalb County) — both on non-Tribal land and thus subject to taxes and governed like a commercial casino. The proposed amendment would require an initial license fee of $250 million and a capital investment of at least $250 million for the additional sites.
The Band’s two additional first-class gaming and tourism destinations in Alabama would offer unlimited gaming (black jack, craps, and other table games, a sports book) and function as top-notch resorts with hotels, restaurants, spas, and other amenities.
Albritton’s proposed gaming package requires a constitutional amendment approved by lawmakers that would then need final approval by state voters, ideally during the November 2020 election.
Albritton touts the Tribe’s resources to run the casinos “completely and properly,” referencing the Band’s successful history operating casinos and existing federal supervision. Though the bill would create the Alabama Gaming Commission to supervise the conduct of bingo, charitable bingo, pari-mutuel wagering, and casino-style games in the state.
The bill would also greenlight an “education lottery” for Alabama — with Tribal exclusivity honored for video lottery terminals.
The bill would additionally imposes new licensing fees and a 25% tax rate paid by existing dog tracks. The Poarch Creeks would likewise pay the 25% rate on any new casinos it opens off of its trust lands.
As Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Chair & CEO Stephanie Bryan told Yellow Hammer News last month: “I’ve been in leadership since 2006 and served as a vice-chair. The state has talked about gaming for that many years. We have always been open. We were told two years ago someone was going to bring a plan to the table, and it never made it to the table. So, we see the importance of bringing a plan, and we brought a lucrative plan to the table. I’m not sure where the other operators are, what those true discussions are taking place — but all I know is the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has offered a lucrative plan that will protect the integrity of gaming, that will generate $1 billion in the first year to the state of Alabama, $350 million after that. It could be more than $350 million if we build the destination resorts — it could be more than $350 million, plus the state would get the revenues off of a clean lottery.”