After joining the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin in submitting a proposal for an exclusive location in south Chicago, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians decided to focus more on their home state of Alabama. The main reason for this shift of priorities is the Poarch Creek Accountability Now (PCAN) group, spearheaded by several formal legislators who are displeased at the fact that the tribe is investing money and building properties in other states, even though they don’t pay taxes in Alabama.
To counter this attempt to tax them, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians launched the Winning for Alabama program, set to highlight the numerous benefits the state has from the tribe’s presence. Currently, they have three casino properties in the Yellowhammer State, all of which are not subject to taxation laws due to the aboriginal land they’re built on.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians owns the following properties in Alabama: Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Montgomery, Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Wetumpka, as well as Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Atmore. Given the fact that these are Class II gaming facilities, and because they’re located within the boundaries of aboriginal lands belonging to the tribe, they are exempt from taxation by the state. However, an initiative called the Poarch Creek Accountability Now wants to put an end to the exemption of these facilities.
This anonymously-funded organization has highlighted the fact that the tribe is using all the profits from its trio of home state casinos to purchase out-of-state opportunities. One of the most recognizable faces within PCAN is Gerald Dial, a former Alabama Senator. However, despite the claims coming from him and the rest of PCAN’s proponents, there is nothing forbidding a Native American tribe from pursuing business interests outside of Alabama or any other state, for that matter.
Industry experts have called this attempt at thwarting the tribe’s entrepreneurial efforts “nothing more than another example of shameless greed by state legislators”, reiterating the notion that laws cannot be changed “just because Alabama wants a bigger piece of the pie.”
Warranted Global Expansion
Like many aboriginal operators, this federally-recognized tribe owns properties in Aruba, Curacao, Nevada and even dropped the bag on the $1.3 billion Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They also renamed the property into Wind Creek Bethlehem, which has become synonymous with all of their ventures.
To combat the attacks by PCAN, the tribe created the Winning for Alabama program, aimed to show both legislators and community members the immense social, economic, educational and cultural contributions by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Spokespeople for the tribe reminded legislators of the fact that their Planned Giving Campaign has provided significant contributions to a variety of projects, including youth athletic programs, scholarships, and even senior centers.
Goals for the Future
Some have also pointed out the fact that these efforts by the tribe also support their existing desire to have their venues upgraded to Class III facilities. If they get the green light, it’s highly likely the casinos will include craps, blackjack, slots and other games that currently aren’t there. To support their insistence, they elaborated that the transformation would net the state $225 million on an immediate basis, as well as an additional 25% of gross annual revenue coming from the three facilities.
The Winning for Alabama program also includes plans for two new Class III integrated resorts (IRs) in the northern part of Alabama. According to calculations by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, the opening of those two venues would lead to the state getting a total of $2 billion, comprised of:
- $1 billion in annual taxes
- $725 million from fees relating to licensing and exclusivity
- $350 million in various revenue duties
Chairwoman of the tribe, Stephanie Bryan, also reminded Alabamans that the Winning for Alabama program also includes incentives that would allow citizens to have a bigger say on gambling-related matters. There is also talk about the possible creation of a “traditional lottery”, much akin to those in neighboring states. So far, no one from PNAC has commented on the tribe’s efforts to highlight their contributions to Alabama.