Poarch Creeks offer $250M for Class III gaming deal in Alabama

A view of the gaming floor of the Creek Casino Montgomery. The tribe only offers Class II games at its facilities. Photo from Facebook

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians offered $250 million to the state of Alabama in exchange for a Class III gaming compact, The Montgomery Advertiser reported.

Tribal leaders made the offer in meetings with lawmakers in order to cover the state's budget shortfall. "I can just say that we have the means," Treasurer Robert McGhee told the paper when asked about the large dollar figure.

The tribe has long offered to share revenues with the state in exchange for exclusivity for Class III games. But a top lawmaker -- who released a gaming study on Monday -- isn't receptive to the proposal.

"Because $250 million merely fills the hole," Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) told the paper. "It doesn't solve the long term problems. Do we want to fill the hole again, or do we want to solve the long-term problem?"

Marsh will introduce legislation today to authorize a lottery, which his study estimates could bring in about $332 million a year. The report also suggests legalizing slot machines and table games at four racetracks -- including one that's owned by the tribe.

"We couldn't do that, because it would draw customers from our location in Atmore," McGhee told the paper in response.

McGhee questioned the wisdom of expanding gaming at racetracks. Marsh's study estimated that the four facilities could bring in between $64 million and $73 million a year.

"You have to ask if approving Class III gaming is what's best for the state," McGhee told the paper. "It is my understanding that only $64 million comes from the casinos. You would still make $330 million from the lottery and keep your current laws."

If the state indeed authorizes slot machines and table games, the tribe would be entitled to the same types of games under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. But lawmakers don't appear to care much about the legal landscape.

"We've tried to be good corporate citizens to the state, to do what's right and provide for the areas especially around our locations," McGhee told the paper. "What's happening now is disappointing to us. It's a complete shift in direction."

Get the Story:
Poarch Creeks offer Alabama $250M budget bailout (The Montgomery Advertiser 4/29)
Del Marsh plans to introduce gambling legislation (The Montgomery Advertiser 4/29)

An Opinion:
Charles J. Dean: Alabama's best bet is tax increase and gambling (Al.Com 4/28)

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Alabama governor won't enter gaming deal with Poarch Creeks (02/12)
Editorial: Battle against Poarch Creek casinos is a waste of time (01/26)
Poarch Creeks remain confident after hearing in casino case (01/14)

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