Poarch holds off poker

Published 12:55 am Wednesday, November 24, 2004

By By Arthur McLean
The Poarch Creek Indians have put their poker game plans for Atmore on hold.
In a statement sent to the Atmore Advance Monday, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians announced an indefinite delay to the start of poker games at the Creek Indian Bingo Palace located on AL 21 north of Atmore.
The statement cited concerns over the regulations placed on Indian gaming by the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Tribal Gaming Commission. "The tribe is working with these authorities to obtain the necessary clearances to begin play," the tribe said.
Tribal officials, from the tribal chairman to the president and CFO of Creek Indian Enterprises were out of town and unavailable for comment.
When asked about the statement, tribal spokeswoman Sharon Delmar said it was self-explanatory and would not comment further.
The release comes from the tribe shortly before Alabama Attorney General Troy King said he would announce the conclusion of his months-long investigation into gaming at the state's dog tracks and Indian reservations.
In recent published reports, King said he would release his conclusions within weeks.
Plans were in place at the tribe to begin running poker games at the bingo palace starting in late November.
In an October interview, Arthur Mothershed, CFO of the tribe's gaming operations, said it planned to hire as many as 50 employees to work the poker games.
A room is being constructed in the bingo palace for the games and operations will start with 9 tables for seven to 10 players at a time.
"It's an experimental deal for us," Mothershed said. "Our goal is to increase the overall value of the entertainment experience here for our customers."
Poker has increased in popularity in recent years with the success of such shows as the World Series of Poker and Celebrity Poker.
That popularity led the gaming branch to look at running the games. "Its an area where we thought we were authorized to enter, but we weren't real sure we wanted to, until recently" Mothershed said.
Because the state's gaming rules don't allow players to play against the house, the games will have what is called a non-banking house. The house will receive a certain percentage from each game up to a certain amount. Mothershed said the charge has not yet been determined.
Of the Poarch Creek entertainment centers in Alabama, Atmore was intended to be the first test site for the poker games. If they are allowed and successful in Atmore, they may well add the games at the tribe's other facilities in the state.

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