A Native American tribe wants to build two gaming resorts in northern Alabama.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PBCI) currently operates three casinos in Alabama. They are in Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka and they've made an offer to expand.
The tribe has made a proposal to expand its presence, offering Class III games (table games, blackjack, roulette, craps, etc.), and purchase exclusive rights to offer gambling. The proposal offers to pay $225 million to the state for those rights. The state of Alabama would ultimately receive tax revenue.
Mike Ball (R-District 10), of the Alabama House of Representatives, sees positives and negatives to a deal.
"A lot of legislators, people, they already know what side they are on, they are not going to open up their hearts and minds to try and think through it and figure things out," Ball said.
When it comes to gambling, Ball says state leaders generally stay firm in their stances, but it might be time to take a chance.
"They have quite a few interest businesses outside of gambling and they invest it back into the state," Ball said.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in Alabama. The tribe estimates after one year, the facilities will generate $1 billion of revenue.
Ball says giving the tribe exclusive rights would make monitoring gambling easier, but he is concerned about the dangers it brings.
"A huge monetary advantage, now there are some issues I care about, I do care about people," Ball said.
Mike Nicks lives in Madison County and says the economic impact is too good to pass up.
"A lot of people are against gambling because it brings crime to the community but it also has a lot of jobs to offer," Nicks said.
Ball says Gov. Kay Ivey would be the first to negotiate the proposal or shut it down. Her office had this to say about the proposal:
"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."
This gambling proposal also calls for the creation of a lottery. This week the tribe released their entire proposal through a public awareness campaign. You can find the entire campaign and proposal here.
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