Poarch Creeks remain confident in appeal over taxes at casino

The Wind Casino and Hotel in Atmore, Alabama. Photo from Facebook

Fresh off a court victory, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians remains confident that it will prevail in a lawsuit over taxes being imposed at one of its casinos.

In July, a federal judge blocked Escambia County Tax Assessor James H. Hildreth from collecting an estimated $22.3 million from the Wind Creek Casino and Hotel. The facility is located on trust land in Atmore so it falls outside of local jurisdiction.

"By imposing taxes on the tribal trust property, Hildreth would be exercising jurisdiction over the tribe and directly assaulting its sovereign immunity," Granade wrote in the July 22 decision.

Hildreth, who will be retiring October 1, is taking the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Just last week, a three-judge panel reaffirmed the legality of the tribe's facilities, including the one in Atmore.

Additionally, the 11th Circuit last month sided with the Seminole Tribe over taxes imposed at one of its casinos in neighboring Florida. So the Poarch Creeks aren't worried that they will lose on appeal.

"Because a federal statute explicitly exempts Indian lands held in trust by the United States from state and local taxation, the Eleventh Circuit's opinion in PCI Gaming forecloses Mr. Hildreth' s principal argument in this case," Chairwoman Stephanie A. Bryan said in a press release quoted by AL.Com.

Get the Story:
Poarch tribe still fighting Escambia County over casino's property taxes (AL.Com 9/8)

11th Circuit Decisions:
Alabama v. PCI Gaming Authority (September 3, 2015)
Seminole Tribe v. Stranburg (August 26, 2015)

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