Christian Coalition claims illegal games

Published 7:26 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2004

By By Arthur McLean
In its latest move against gambling, the Christian Coalition of Alabama released a report this week claiming the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is operating illegal video gambling machines.
The Coalition released a study by Robert Sertell of Casino Horizons Corporation, stating that nearly 90 percent of the electronic games at the Atmore Entertainment Center should be considered illegal devices. Games at reservations in Wetumpka and Tallapoosa were also deemed to be illegal by Sertell.
Sertell has been used as an expert witness in trials across the country; his testimony is often used in the prosecution of illegal gaming devices, according court documents from several states.
To compile the report, Sertell visited all three of the Poarch Creek Indian facilities around the state in May. His research consisted of playing the available games as a regular patron, and studying how the game operated.
Sertell claims the gaming machines at the Atmore bingo hall look and act like standard video slot machines that can be found in Las Vegas, Nev. or Biloxi, Miss. By playing like slot machines, Sertell states, the games are in violation of state law, banning non-bingo electronic gaming.
The difference between the machines found in Biloxi, Miss or Las Vegas, Nev. is that the machines use an electronic bingo game shown on the same screen as the electronic spinning wheels. The two video animations are representative of each other and play at the same time.
According to users familiar with the machines, the screen can be switched to show either bingo or the spinning wheels as the primary part of the display. This option does not appear in Sertell's report.
Sertell visited the Poarch Creek locations in February. At that time, the tribe agreed to change out a number of machines that Sertell claimed did not meet federal and state regulations.
The new machines, Sertell wrote in his report, still don't comply with the regulations.
The Christian Coalition of Alabama has submitted the report to the National Indian Gaming Commission. The Coalition is asking the NIGC to close the Indian operations.
Tribal Chairman Eddie Tullis did not return phone calls seeking comment.

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