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Over 50 percent of Senate Republicans accepted money from Indian casino; now they want their vote

Bill Britt

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As a floor vote on a pro-Indian lottery bill nears, Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh said he has the votes to pass the bill he is co-sponsoring along with Sen. Greg Albritton.

Marsh and Albritton are pushing a constitutional amendment that would further solidify the Poarch Band of Creek Indians gaming monopoly in the state.

Poarch Creek’s tribal chief, Stephanie Bryan, has praised the duo’s bill, blessing the legislation as acceptable to the tribe.

Perhaps Marsh’s confidence is buoyed by the fact that over 50 percent of the Senate Republican caucus has received money from the Poarch Creeks who will see enormous gains for their gaming monopoly if the legislation is adopted.

The bill being presented by the pair provides nothing for education, outlaws pari-mutuel gaming that has existed for 40 years and will cost jobs in Macon, Greene and Jefferson Counties.

Marsh is not allowing a vote on a competing measure by state Senator Jim McClendon, which, according to a reliable study, would create tens of thousands of jobs, generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue annually and strictly regulate gaming on all but Indian lands.

Poarch Creeks operate three tax-exempt, unregulated casinos in the state. Marsh and Albritton’s legislation would open the door for the Poarch Creeks to expand games played on tribal land.

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Currently, the tribe operates on less than 400 acres but is planning to take 16,000 acres into trust, a move that would authorize the Indians to open casino gaming throughout the state.

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Of the 27 Senate Republican lawmakers that could vote on the Marsh-Albritton bill, 16 have taken money from the Poarch Creeks in this last election cycle for a total of over $300,000.

The following Republican senators are beneficiaries of the Poarch Creeks’ gambling contributions:

Greg Albritton $65,000

Will Barfoot $45,000

Chris Elliot $27,500

Garlan Gudger $25,000

Jimmy Holley $2500

Andrew Jones $10,000

Steve Livingston $10,000

Del Marsh $30,000

Arthur Orr $5,000

Randy Price $12,500

Shay Shelnutt $5,000

Larry Stutts $25,000

J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner Jr. $7,500

Cam Ward $2,500

Tom Whatley $50,000

Jack Williams $10,000

Republicans who didn’t take Poarch Creek money:

Gerald Allen

Tom Butler

Donnie Chesteen

Clyde Chambliss

Sam Givhan

Jim McClendon

Tim Melson

Greg Reed

Dan Roberts

Clay Scofield

David Sessions

Marsh, as head of the Senate, has blocked efforts for a competing bill to come to the upper chamber for a vote.

He originally co-sponsored the measure put forward by McClendon but suddenly turned against that bill in favor of one that first and foremost benefits the Poarch Creeks.

APR has analyzed how the bills are different with a full breakdown here.

Dueling lottery bills: A simple breakdown of what they do

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