MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Poarch Band of Creek Indians are out with a new plan they say could bring billions of dollars to Alabama, but they’re also asking the state for a big favor.
Leaders of the tribe are calling this a comprehensive plan for gaming in Alabama, but the question is how will this go over with the governor and the legislature. In the new plan, the group said it wanted to expand its operations to the northern part of the state, something they claim will bring in new revenue to Alabama while creating thousands of jobs.
However, to move toward Class III gaming would be a decision that would have to be negotiated with Governor Kay Ivey.
“I think we’ve always been open to having the conversation,” said Robbie McGhee, vice chair of the tribe. “You’ve heard us talk about this for years with different governors.”
Ivey’s office responded to CBS 42’s questions about Poarch Creek with the following statement:
“The governor, as she has previously stated, is open to Alabama having a clean lottery. This proposal goes further and would need to be thoroughly discussed and fully vetted. Ultimately, this is a question for the legislature, but the governor is open to hearing any recommendations.”
Rep. Pebbin Warren, D-Tuskegee, has VictoryLand in her district and if a deal is made, she would like to see them protected.
“My whole thing is that we should be able to do what we started doing in 2003 and continue to do it, and the Native Americans can do anything they want to as long as we can do what we want to,” Warren said.
One of the criticisms the tribe often faces is that they don’t pay state taxes, but that’s because they are federally regulated. The tribe’s argument is they employee a lot of Alabamians.
CBS 42 political analyst Steve Flowers said this deal could lead to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians having exclusivity on gaming.
“Yes, they employ people, but one of the reasons why they employ so many people is because they don’t pay taxes,” Flowers said. “A lot of businesses would prosper if they didn’t pay any taxes.”
Warren has already filed a bill to protect gaming in her district