Posted on: August 12, 2022, 11:50h.
Last updated on: August 12, 2022, 12:26h.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is defending the more than $1 million in political contributions the gaming tribe made to state lawmakers in Alabama last year alone.
The only federally recognized Native American community in Alabama, the tribe is one of the largest political donors in the state. A WVTM13 investigation found that the Poarch Indians contributed to more than 100 state lawmakers.
The tribe says it’s supportive of state politicians who recognize the importance of the Native American community and back legislative efforts that more easily allow the Poarch Indians to assure its economic and political sovereignty. A major component of that focus is the tribe’s gaming operations.
But Alabama has long refused to enter into a Class III gaming compact with the tribe to allow its three Native American gaming properties in the state — Wind Creek Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka — to incorporate Las Vegas-style slot machines, table games, and sports betting. As a result, the casinos can only offer bingo-based games and electronic gaming devices.
Despite contributing more than $1 million to Alabama lawmakers, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians remains without a Class III gaming compact. The tribe’s efforts to convince the state to legalize commercial gambling — and allow its three casinos to transition into full-fledged casinos — have also been unsuccessful.
However, legislative attempts to authorize a state-run lottery have been shunned. Though the tribe isn’t opposed to a lottery, it says any gaming expansion should come in conjunction with added gaming privileges for its casinos.
“The Tribe participates in the political process as allowed,” the tribe said in a statement to WVTM13.
Our polling shows that the vast majority of Alabamians support a comprehensive gaming plan. The state legislators need to address the entire issue. A simple lottery bill will not generate the revenue our state needs,” the tribe continued.
State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Range), a supporter of Alabama ending its notoriety as one of only five states in the country without a lottery, doesn’t believe the Poarch lobbying has impeded lottery progress. Instead, he says out-of-state interests are more responsible for the legislative deadlock.
Albritton, who also supports allowing the tribe to bring in slots and tables to the Wind Creek casinos, says claims that the tribe is blocking the lottery effort are “a misdirection.”
Social Gaming Debut
Slots and roulette, blackjack, craps, and other table games won’t be allowed at Wind Creek casinos in Alabama anytime soon. That’s because the state legislature is adjourned for 2022. But the tribe is hoping to prep future casino players by way of a new social gaming product.
Wind Creek Hospitality, the tribe’s gaming unit that manages its three casinos in Alabama, as well as Wind Creek Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, Wind Creek Aruba, and Wind Creek Curacao, this week launched its social gaming platform, CasinoVerse.
The free-to-play social gaming app allows users to become familiarized with table games and slot machines. While players cannot win actual money on the platform, they can win credits redeemable at Wind Creek properties. There are no in-app purchases or “freemium” options.
“[CasinoVerse] is always completely free in every regard to play. But the marketing offers provided to players are always real,” said Ken Rohman, chief marketing officer for Wind Creek Hospitality.