Tullis talks about casino plans
Published 11:46 pm Monday, October 25, 2004
By By Arthur McLean
Wednesday Poarch Creek tribal chairman Eddie Tullis publicly laid out the tribe's casino and commercial retail plans, which could add 800-900 jobs.
At the Atmore Chamber of Commerce's Business Before Hours Tullis said the tribe plans to begin work on a large casino complex and hotel possibly before the end of the year.
"We're primarily interested in two facets, a casino that will be 10 times as large as the one we have now, and a major hotel," Tullis said.
A master plan for tribal land is coming together, and the tribe is in the process of selecting a developer for the property.
Tullis said the Best Western motel would probably stay even with the new development. "Some developers have told us we need two different kinds of hotels for the casino," Tullis said.
"This is going to be a major development," Tullis said. "We have three other land owners in the area, and we haven't finalized negotiations on their property yet. We intend to move forward as soon as possible."
Tullis said increasing business at the bingo palace over the past three months and the new Carnival Cruise Line operating in Mobile should help the tribe's plans. "I want to get some of that business. I want those people coming to Mobile to stop here."
Tullis urged the audience to consider what else will be needed around the casino. "I ask, what kind of development do you want? What kinds of developments need to come to exit 57?"
"There will need to be other amenities around the casino," Tullis said. Plans envision a large retail complex operating in conjunction with the casino/hotel operation. "Take a look at Philadelphia, Miss. as an example of the good things that can happen. Here, retail will carry just as much as the casino. They can feed each other if the retail quality is there."
When asked about the legality of poker games and expanded gaming, Tullis said gambling laws are changing fast and tribes in several states are fighting the powers of state governors to control gambling operations.
Despite announced plans to open a poker operation at the bingo palace by November, tribal officials are getting legal opinions on whether or not they can carry out the games.
In addition to the major development plans at exit 57, Tullis said the tribe is planning to build a major travel center at exit 54.
Other ideas Tullis tossed to the audience were expanded golfing in the area, a water park and developing a major wildlife resort area along Escambia Creek.
Once construction begins on the casino/hotel complex, it could be completed in 12 – 15 months.