Creeks study casino options
Published 8:42 pm Monday, July 26, 2004
By By Arthur McLean
Despite a recent report making an Indian casino seem eminent for Atmore, Poarch Creek officials say nothing is certain right now.
Robert McGhee, president and CEO of Creek Indian Enterprises, said his organization has been studying the possibility of a larger casino operation in Atmore for some time, but "no papers have been signed."
Creek Indian Enterprises is the umbrella organization for the Poarch Creek's multiple business operations, including the bingo palace, Creek Smoke Shop and Muskogee Metalworks.
What is on paper so far, is a set of private studies conducted for Creek Indian Enterprises. McGhee said those studies show the area could support a casino operation up to a size of 40,000 square-feet, a 250-room hotel, and attendant restaurants and shops.
"We're looking at developing a destination type resort," McGhee said. "But we've not signed a deal with any developers."
McGhee said Creek Indian Enterprises has been in discussions with a number of developers interested in the potential project.
The Tribal council has not taken any action to approve any casino or resort construction, but it is allowing the tribe's business arm to explore the possibilities.
In addition to speaking with various developers, McGhee said Creek Indian Enterprises has also been keeping Atmore city official informed of their ideas. "The city has been supporting us in this," McGhee said. "If we do something, we want it to be fitting and work within what is already here and fit in the community."
In May, the tribe purchased more than 2,000 acres of land in the Sardine area near 410 acres of land the city purchased for industrial and commercial development near I-65.
When asked previously about economic development and working with the Poarch band of Creek Indians, Atmore Mayor Howard Shell has refused to make comments other than to say the city and the tribe were working closely on economic development plans. "Any news they have, I'll let them tell it," Shell has said.
A recent online poll conducted by the Atmore Advance showed support for a casino operation in Atmore. Online discussions at www.atmoreadvance.com show that online forum contributors believe such an operation would bring more jobs and give Atmore's sagging economy a shot in the arm.