By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Yesterday, in a Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee’s public hearing on the lottery, Robbie McGee spoke in support of one bill, while being in strict opposition of another.
McGee, vice chairman for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI), first spoke against Senator Jim McClendon’s (R-Springville) lottery bill, and then in support of Senator Greg Albritton’s (R-Bay Minette) proposal for a compact between the State and the Tribe.
Even though both bills support a compact with PCI, McGee stated that Albritton’s bill (SB26) was more beneficial for the Tribe. However, unlike McClendon’s legislation, Albritton’s bill does nothing to address Medicaid, which is the purpose of the Special Session.
In an earlier presser, McClendon praised the Indian’s for using gambling profits to provide excellent heath insurance for their children. He simply asked the Tribe not to stand in the way of the people of Alabama, as they try to do the same for their children.
Proposal would allow lottery terminals only at the four existing locations where there is already para-mutuel racetrack betting; plus, a compact with PCI.
Proposal would expand gaming, but only on tribal lands.
McGee said of McClendon’s proposal (SB11): “The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Federal law that regulates all Indian gaming, requires that any compact between the state and a tribe be beneficial to both entities, but this proposal would have to have us pay a significant portion of our profits to the state, while giving us nothing in exchange. Because the terms of the compact would offer us no more than we currently have, it would not be considered mutually beneficial and would never be approved by the Federal Government or by our tribal government.”
Albritton’s proposal included an expansion of Class III gaming on tribal lands, and a call for the Governor to sign a compact with PCI. It would include, but not be limited to, slot machines and video lottery terminals but also, Baccarat, Chemin de fer, Blackjack, Roulette and Craps for 25 years. It also authorizes the Governor to allow “furtherance of any gaming and resort project if… [it] is likely to provide or maintain job opportunities…located on property owned by or held in trust by the United States” for the benefit of PCI. Return considerations made by PCI were to be determined during the establishment of the compact.
“We believe to be successful financially, there has to be discipline applied to deciding what opportunities to seize and which ones to pass on. We have applied that discipline to reviewing various bills and we stand in support of SB26, because it is part of a well-thought-out plan to fix Alabama’s finances once and for all by defining the terms of a compact between our tribe and the state,” said McGee.
According to sources, the Tribe has been seeking a Northeast Alabama location. That could be accomplished in any compact with the State, drawing business from Chattanooga, Atlanta and possibly Nashville.
After the afternoon committee meeting, only two lottery bills were given a favorable report, SB3 and SB11, both sponsored by McClendon.