The Poarch Band of Creek Indians owns and operates the Wind Creek Casino in Atmore, Alabama. Photo: U.S. Library of Congress

Stephanie Bryan: Poarch Band of Creek Indians supports statewide vote on gaming

Will 2019 finally be the year of the lottery in Alabama? State lawmakers are due to consider that issue when they meet next week.

But Chair Stephanie A. Bryan of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, wants to ensure the tribe's gaming rights are addressed. Writing in The Montgomery Advertiser, she calls for a statewide vote on the issue:
We know that laws governing gaming are complex. That is one reason that we strongly believe that when deciding the lottery question, voters should have the opportunity to vote on that single issue. We oppose any lottery bill that would include provisions affecting or expanding private gaming interests.

Ultimately, deciding how to vote on a lottery will be a difficult choice for many citizens in our state. But those personal, hard decisions should not be made more difficult by tying a lottery designed to help bolster our state’s budget to private gaming interests. The lottery should be a single “yes” or “no” vote. This right to vote on a lottery is what Alabamians need and deserve.

Not so fast, says Bill Britt, the editor-in-chief of the Alabama Political Reporter. He believes the tribe's real concern is not about the wishes of voters but of protecting its Class II gaming empire from competition:
Roulette or blackjack are not at the heart of why PCI wants a lottery. It’s a compact with the state that they need.

The reason PCI desires a state-tribal compact is that they currently operate illegal gambling operations around the state.

Some state politicians and officials indeed have argued that the tribe's operation are illegal for a number of reasons. But Britt does not mention that the federal courts put that issue to rest long ago even though the tribe, as he points out, has lobbied Congress to affirm that its homelands in Alabama are still in trust.

If state lawmakers end up approving a lottery, the tribe is entitled to offer the same types of gaming. In other states, that has been interpreted to mean Class III games, a category that includes slot machines and card games.

Read More on the Story
Chair Stephanie A. Bryan: Let the people vote for a lottery in Alabama (The Montgomery Advertiser February 22, 2019)

Another Opinion
Bill Britt: Poarch Creek Indians believe Alabamians are fools and… (Alabama Political reporter February 25, 2019)

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