HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has a proposal for Alabama: $1 billion and a projected $350 million in annual revenue payments from gaming enterprises, along with support for a lottery in exchange for a monopoly on gaming rights in Alabama.
“A compact is basically a contract between the federally recognized Indian tribe and a unit of government more specifically, typically a state government, said WHNT News 19 political analyst Jess Brown.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has long had a presence in Alabama. It was the largest native landholder, the tribe has donated and invested money around the state, and it operates casinos in Atmore and Wetumpka and Pennsylvania.
And it has launched a recent ad campaign in Alabama that Brown says is part of a broader political strategy.
“Gradually work the problem to position themselves politically to achieve what they hope will be fundamental change in the gaming laws in the State of Alabama,” he said.
What happens under such a compact?
“The Native American tribe agrees to put money in the state coffers, gambling revenue in the state coffers and in exchange for that, the state authorizes the Indian tribes to engage in whatever forms of gaming the state authorizes, and that’s what we will vary from state to state,” Brown said.
The tribe has said it would include building two casino resorts in North Alabama and Class III gaming rights, basically full casino style gaming. Currently they are allowed to offer Class II gaming, basically electronic bingo — at their Alabama casinos, including sports betting, in its proposed compact.
Right now, a gaming compact wouldn’t be possible in Alabama without changes in the law and constitution.
“Currently, the state constitution provides an absolute and total ban on the legislature or state government’s generally authorizing a lottery or any other gift enterprise. I so i feel certain that without a referendum, without approval of the voters of Alabama, neither the governor nor our legislature can enter into a contract with an Indian tribe.”
WHNT News 19 will continue to examine the details of this high-stakes story.