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Pat Dye announces his opposition to Poarch Creek gaming monopoly

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, former Auburn head football Coach Pat Dye expressed his opposition to a proposal giving the Poarch Creek Band of Indians (PCI) a monopoly on gambling in the state of Alabama. Coach Pat Dye held a news conference in Montgomery with the leaders of PCAN (Poarch Creek Accountability Now), a group that has organized to oppose the PCI proposal.

Coach Dye supports an expansion of gambling in the state; but not the PCI proposal which would leave their existing casinos untaxed, create a paper lottery, and give the Tribe additional casinos in Birmingham and Huntsville. Under their plan, PCI says the year could see a billion dollars by letting the tribe have a monopoly. Coach Dye said that PCI has just concluded a deal with the state of Pennsylvania for one casino at $1.55 billion; why is Alabama only getting $1 billion for multiple casinos and why would the existing casinos be untaxed?

The Poarch Creek Indians presently operate video gaming facilities in Montgomery, Wetumpka and Atmore, which play electronic bingo on a machine. Similar machines have been ruled as illegal under Alabama law in Shorter and White Hall in Lowndes County. PCI operates under federal protection under the 1980s era Indian Gaming Act.

Dye said that while gambling “is not my lifestyle,” he is not opposed to gambling, “There is always going to be gambling.”

Since passing their lottery, “Georgia has spent $18 billion on education since they have had a lottery.”

Coach Dye said that he supports finding money so that those kids who don’t have the ability to get athletic scholarships, “Can pursue their dreams.”

Dye said that the legalization of sports betting would more than double the billion dollars in the Indians’ proposal.

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Dye claimed that, “Alabamians per capita spend more on sports betting than anyone else in the country; but right now that goes to bookies.”

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“In Alabama, the Poarch Creek Casino Operation has given more than $4 million to Alabama politicians and various PACs and they have donated more than $2.6 million to federal officials to keep a chokehold on their power and influence,” PCAN Executive Director Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, said. “Under the proposal, the Poarch Creek Casino Operation has crafted the sweetheart deal of all deals a monopoly expanding gaming, and still ZERO taxes on existing gambling profits.”

Chip Hill said that in polling, 75 percent of the people of Alabama support a clean paper lottery; but Alabamians overwhelmingly oppose giving anyone a monopoly.

A modest paper lottery was proposed in the legislature last year by State Senator Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, in the last legislative session. It passed the Senate, but was dead on arrival in the House of Representatives. A more robust lottery proposal, that was more friendly to the non-PCI gambling interests, sponsored by State Senator Jim McClendon, R-Springville, never even got out of committee in the Senate. The last time a lottery bill appeared on the ballot, it was overwhelmingly rejected by the voters of Alabama.

PCAN is a 501(c)(4) group that does not reveal where it receives its funding.

Coach Pat Dye is a former Auburn University head football coach and athletics director. He compiled a coaching record of 153 wins, 62 losses, and five ties. He coached at Auburn from 1981 to 1992.

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