Gaming: BIG business

Published 9:52 am Monday, April 25, 2011

A recent report released by Casino City’s North American Gaming Almanac published that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians contributed 43 percent of all gaming revenues in the state as of 2009. Above, gamers play at Wind Creek Casino & Hotel.|File Photo

Gaming in Alabama is big business and data released by Casino City’s North American Gaming Almanac shows that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians contribute nearly half of all revenue from the industry.

With only three property locations, PCI managed to corner 43 percent of all gaming revenue in the state as of 2009, the end of the reporting period in the latest Almanac publication.

With four dog tracks in the state, nearly $18 million in revenues were reported in the data published.

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The big difference between the two types of gaming in Alabama is seen in taxes paid to the state.

“The State of Alabama collects taxes from pari-mutuel dog racing operations and horse race simulcasting,” the report said.

Under current conditions, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is not required to pay taxes on revenues received from gambling activity. A bill has been introduced in the past, but has failed to materialize any tax requirements for the Tribe.

Currently, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians operates three gaming facilities in the state. With recent closures of other gaming facilities offering electronic games, Poarch’s facilities are the only such gaming operations in the state.

Operating in Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery, Poarch Creek gaming venues have more than 3,000 machines operating daily with an estimated income of just over $14 million in 2009, according to data published in the NAGA.

Revenue generated in 2009 by four dog tracks totaled nearly $18 million, according to the report.

On the Tribal Web site officials say the Atmore location of Wind Creek Casino & Hotel is a massive 235,000 square foot facility with 57,000 square feet of gaming floor with more than 1,600 electronic machines. Creek Casino in Montgomery contains more than 1,000 machines in 21,000 square feet. Creek Casino in Wetumpka has 1,600 machines at the facility.

Tribal gaming is limited to high-stakes bingo facilities and Class II gaming machines. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians are descendants of a segment of the original Creek Nation, which once covered almost all of Alabama and

Georgia. Unlike many southeastern Indian tribes, the Poarch Creeks were not removed from their tribal lands and have lived together for more than 150 years near Atmore, Alabama. In the early 1980s, the Poarch Creeks petitioned the United States government to recognize a government-to-government relationship. Their request was finally answered on Aug. 11, 1984, when they became the only federally recognized tribe in the state of Alabama.

Federal recognition allows the tribe to operate as a sovereign nation with its own system of government and bylaws.