Will a $1 billion offer bring expanded gambling and a lottery to Alabama?

Politics
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Alabama Legislature in 2020 will be asked to take up a major question regarding the state's future direction -- whether or not to enter a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

It could pave the way for new casinos in Alabama, a lottery and hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue. The tribe wants the legislature to take up the issue this year.

There is still meaningful opposition to state-connected gambling in Alabama, which may kill any such move, but the conversation is definitely underway.

Maybe the best example is the ads the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are running on TV pointing out some of the ways Alabama could use $1 billion.

The billion dollars it refers to has strings attached. The money would include license fees for exclusive gaming rights for the tribe in Alabama, with an eye toward building new full-fledged Vegas-style casinos in Birmingham and at a still-undisclosed site in northeast Alabama.

A tribe spokesman said the offer includes $225 million as a license fee from the tribe's three existing casinos in Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka. Those sites would go from bingo-type slot machines to full gaming.

The offer also includes $500 million in license fees for the two new sites and tax rates and revenue share from existing sites of about $350 million, which is expected to be roughly the size of annual ongoing payment. The tribe's offer also includes agreeing to a regulatory structure for the casinos.

A compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indian, and any creation of a lottery, would have to win the Legislature's approval. The issue would then go before Alabama voters, who would have to vote to approve changes to the state constitution.