Alabama AG Seeks Ban On Indian Bingo Machines

February 16, 2011

Alabama’s new attorney general is calling for a ban bingo machine’s at Alabama’s Indian casinos — including the Poarch Creek’s Wind Creek in Atmore.

“I would also ask that any regulations make clear that the mere fact that traditional bingo is allowed in certain parts ofthis State does not mean that “electronic bingo” is legal on Indian lands in this State,” Luther Strange said  in a letter to the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).

Strange argued that state-regulated gaming facilities in Alabama are not allowed to operate electronic bingo machines, therefore the tribes should also be banned from operating them.

“I urge you to make clear that Native American Indian tribes located in Alabama cannot engage in gambling activities that are patently illegal under Alabama law,” the attorney said.

The NIGC has publicly stated in the past that if paper bingo is allowed anywhere in Alabama, Indian tribes are able to offer any form of the game — including electronic bingo like the machines located in Atmore.

For Strange and newly elected Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, the letter was the first move against Indian casinos since taking office last month, as they argued that the Indian bingo games are slot machines.

“…absolutely no amendment to the Alabama Constitution has authorized slot machines or other illegal gambling devices in any county. Machines that accept cash or credit and then dispense cash value prizes based upon chance are slot machines under Alabama law and are not made legal by any bingo amendment. Likewise, no local bingo rule, regulation or ordinance can legally authorize slot machines,” Strange’s letter states.

Click here to read the complete Luther Strange letter to the National Indian Gaming Commission.


34 Responses to “Alabama AG Seeks Ban On Indian Bingo Machines”

  1. SaddleUpNRide on February 17th, 2011 10:01 am

    Atmore is almost a ghost town as it is. If the Casino goes then the government will have an awful lot of people to support… Welfare, medicade, foodstamps, etc. but eventually they will probably find a way to end all those programs as well. Our country is no longer “for the people or by the people”. Very, very sad :-(

  2. concerned on February 17th, 2011 9:14 am

    do you people realize what will happen to the value of our homes and land in atmore if they shut down wind creek. No one will ever be able to sell a home, the schools will fail or go to the state for funds and that will mean no football, basketball, field trips etc. No one will want to live here (they already don’t). All of you that voted for this crazy governor, WELL, you got him! There are so many people here in town that grace their church doors everytime they open, but go gamble either at wind creek or in mississippi, and you go across the line and buy lottery tickets, so get off your high horses and support the one industry that keeps your little hometown afloat….look at the money they just donated to ALL area schools (they didn’t just give to one) and the money they just donated to the YMCA. Without this money, that program would be in trouble. Some working parents need the Y to keep their kids after school so that they can work and not have to have latch key kids….YOU BETTER WAKE UP BEFORE ATMORE IS WIPED OFF THE MAP!

  3. vicky on February 17th, 2011 6:31 am

    i work at the casino and i thank god everyday for my job. it allows me to raise my two boys comfortably. the gambling is not the only part of it. there are actually alot of people who only patronize the resturants and other places we have that dont include the gambling. alot of lives would be affected by closing the casino. i dont mind workin for a living but in this economy its hard to do so i am grateful for my job! i hope they dont take it away from me!!!!!!

  4. seriously on February 17th, 2011 3:37 am

    The Indians need to be left alone.

  5. Bill Sherman on February 17th, 2011 1:07 am

    In 1988 United States federal law that establishes the jurisdictional framework that governs Indian gaming. There was no federal gaming structure before this act. The stated purposes of the act include providing a legislative basis for the operation/regulation of Indian gaming, protecting gaming as a means of generating revenue for the tribes, encouraging economic development of these tribes, and protecting the enterprises from negative influences (such as organized crime). The law established the National Indian Gaming Commission and gave it a regulatory mandate. The law also delegated new authority to the U.S. Department of the Interior and created new federal offenses, giving the U.S. Department of Justice authority to prosecute them.

    In 1976, in a case called Bryan v. Itasca County, the Supreme Court made a ruling that sowed the legal seeds that would eventually give rise to the Indian gaming industry. In an opinion written by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., the Supreme Court highlighted tribal independence from state regulatory authority. Since regulatory authority is the primary legal mechanism for regulating some forms of gambling, this case would prove relevant to the impending controversy of Indian gaming.

    Gambling is a part of many traditional Indian cultures (as well as the larger US society.) Tribal games include dice and shell activities, archery competitions, races, and so on. The use of gaming to generate profit did not begin until the late 1970s and early 1980s within Indian communities. Several tribes, especially in California and Florida, opened bingo parlors as a way to earn revenue. Their actions were related to the search for new sources of revenue, given the emphasis the Ronald Reagan administration placed on economic self-sufficiency for the tribes.

    Looks to me like it was a Republican President Ronald Reagan that was pushing for the tribes economic freedom. Now its a Republican Governor Robert Bentley that wants to take it away. Damned Republicans can’t make up their minds.

  6. concerned for our people on February 16th, 2011 5:33 pm

    what kind of person does this. End jobs for 80 percent of atmore !!! Great job there attorney. Thousands of families hungry and homeless !!!! And to all the religiouser than thou’s…..just worry about your own back door and not everyone elses. God can judge his people ! NOT MAN. If you are addicted to gambling or know someone who is then they need help, its not everyone else’s problem that they have a problem !!! HOORAH for wind creek and these politicians need to find something better to do with their time besides make people starve and be hungry from no jobs in atmore !

  7. atmore on February 16th, 2011 4:01 pm

    I wish they would stop all of this back and forth crap about it is legal, o wait no it’s not. They have been doing this since the casino started making money and everything. I love it being out there, I have paid their light bill a time or 2 i’m sure but it’s my choice to go out there=) Shouldn’t this have all been decided (wether it’s legal or not) before the thing was built and hundereds of jobs were gained from it…Atmore will be wiped off the map if that casino goes…Just sayin, If you dont agree with the gambling and everything that comes along with it, just keep on driving when you pass it. No sense in causing all this fuss over a building. I wish they would focus on something that really should be solved!!!!!!!!

  8. Carla on February 16th, 2011 3:52 pm

    As the earlier comment read “No one is forcing people to enter Wind Creek Casino” if people so choose to go into the casino to gamble then that is their right. If those same people that are of age and they decide to go buy a six pack of beer then that too is their right. It is also the right of the state of alabama to choose not to enter into a compact with the poarch creek indians. though the state’s educational system is failing miserably because of lack of funds. Would a compact with the state and the tribe not benefit the people of Alabama and Alabama’s future? Are our state officals trying to come up with new ways to generate revenue to save our schools from more proration and more cuts? If so what are those new revenue generating plans they are creating? I’m sure that many of the “haters” that are speaking against the Tribe and their gaming operations had no problem whatsoever with the Tribe donating money to the local area schools. This situation could be argued a million different ways because there is no way for people to see eye to eye.

  9. huh on February 16th, 2011 3:36 pm

    What year is this? I thought it was 2011 where people can decide what they want to do with their own money. The creek gaming center is nice, it brings tourist to Alabama and provides plenty of jobs. It helps surrounding businesses by having more people in the area.

    This guy is nuts, why can’t they spend time on a real issue for alabama? Why does he care what citizens themselves decide to do with money they have earned. Its not his call

  10. judith on February 16th, 2011 3:31 pm

    check the records and you will see we have more on stste help now than ever before why because people have gambled every thing they get there hands on i want even buy gas from them are eat there because we are helping them in there sin read your bible and see what sin does

  11. Jim W on February 16th, 2011 2:32 pm

    Who ever Vicky is she makes my point on this issue. Changing people from being tax payers to tax burdens. The politicians need to wake up and smell the coffee.

  12. vicky on February 16th, 2011 2:17 pm

    well folks….i do work there!!! i am a single mom of two little boys!! that job is how i support my babies! _ have insurance on my self thru them as well. we dont twist peoples arms to come play. we also have other reasons people come there. alot of people come in just to eat at one of the three resturants!!!!! we have alot of good,honest and hard workin people who work there! why cant the governor focus on drugs amd crime and other things. we dont hurt anybody. this place has done alot of good for people and i am one of them. would ya’ll rather me be drawin unemployment that ya’ll pay for???????

  13. JohnMolino on February 16th, 2011 1:23 pm

    Thank goodness this AG has taken it upon himself to rid us of this scourge of gambling machines. These gambling machines were about to take over this entire area, turning all of us into mindless zombies inserting quarters into machines…
    Forget all the other serious problems with crime and unemployment. Gambling machines are at the heart of the problem!
    /Sarcasm off

  14. JohnMolino on February 16th, 2011 1:18 pm

    “Land of the Free,Home of the Brave.”
    More like ,”Land of the Regulated,Home of the Over Taxed”

    …and for the record, I hate gambling. We have wayyyy too many laws as it is. The Alabama AG is nothing more than a politician with a law degree that thinks he can force his religious moral compass on the society as a whole. It’s stupid. He is stupid. Not so stupid though that a good portion of religious whackadoodles will band together in election time to re elect him for “Saving us all from the evils of gambling machines”… LOL

  15. Bobby on February 16th, 2011 1:02 pm

    Sam, there have been two different rulings by the Supreme Court regarding “on reservation” and “off reservation” activities which are reciprocal. The first being Carcieri v. Salazar. Please read it. The other dealt with the Indian Recognition Act of 1934. This is the act that recognized Native American Tribes and put land in trust. This is the ONLY time that land has been put in a trust for tribes by the federal government. The problem with the Poarch Creek is that they weren’t recognized as a tribe unitl 1984 preventing them from having land in trust. They were given tribal land where the actual reservation is located off of Jack Springs Rd. Any land that the tribe purchased after that does not just “become” tribal land. The arguement is that Poarch Creek has NO land in trust and is NOT protected from state sanction when off of the reservation. Poarch Creek has not had a case brought against them yet but many tribes just like Poarch have and the Supreme Court ruled that their casino’s and gaming fall under state law forcing some to close and some to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in backed taxes and penalties. The task force didn’t shut down the Indian casino’s because much legal research needed to be done. It was obvious that the others were not protected and were operating illegally. Now the legal proceedure begins to diplomatically shut down Poarch Creeks gambling interests.

  16. Jim W on February 16th, 2011 12:58 pm

    Mr. AG I realize that when you were in law school there was a very small portion of your studies on how to run a business as your teachers were focusing on the law and the justice end of it. So, let me see if I have this correct. A casino or casino’s operating in your state which employs thousands of employees state wide who supports their families. Who spends their monies that are earned in ther communities and their State you want to be unemployed?? What are you thinking? My, My, I am amazed that in a time like we are in currently that you would want or allow something like that to happen. When the State of Alabama already does not receive enough taxes to pay the bills. Oh what was that? Not long ago I recall hearing about the State not being able to balance a budget. If you continue on this path you never will. This is another premier waste of resources and time when it should be spent else where. By the way I do not have a dog in this race but I very much beleive that the people who work for the tribes and the people from our communities who do not belong to the tribes who work there are very important to the communities. They help the schools and other non profits in the area so it can be said they are helping the State Government by giving when the Goverment can give no more. Oh by the way why don’t you talk to the local cities and counties where these casino’s reside and see how it effects them while your at it. I say it is time for you to move on and do your job you have bigger fish to fry! Think about it you are making tax paying people into tax burdens. Go figure.
    Before anyone jumps on me this is just my opinion and have no vested intrest one way or another. In other words I do not gamble nor do I work for any caniso.

  17. Jerry Brown on February 16th, 2011 12:44 pm

    Atmore,and the state of Alabama will miss the funds given to them if the all mighty powerful have their way!Let’s hope they fail!

  18. bama54 on February 16th, 2011 12:34 pm

    @ Sam & Bobby Close it, take away the jobs, not hotel (no place to stay), take the money out of Alabama and move it to Mississippi. You know if I won the Lotto, I bet there is not one church would turn down any offering.

  19. concerned on February 16th, 2011 11:53 am

    I thought the governor wanted to create jobs for Alabama, not add hundreds to the unemployment lines. guess this is another case of say one thing to get elected then change your mind.

  20. Sam on February 16th, 2011 11:39 am

    @ Bobby – If that was the case the task force would have already came to Atmore to shut them down. You might want to re-check your facts. That land is Trust land so they will remain exempt from state regulation until they ban paper bingo and all forms of bingo. Good luck with that!

  21. bgr on February 16th, 2011 11:37 am

    To hmm…….I agree our new governor and his force definitely need to look at priorities… however citizens need to realize that only they can vote to change the laws of this state one of which is gambling. I for one do not have a problem with the casinos but if is against the law…then vote to change the law if you want to keep the casinos!…

  22. Bobby on February 16th, 2011 11:19 am

    Sam, I have checked. That land was bought by Poarch and not deeded to them by the federal government when the reservation was established. This makes it state sanctioned land. There is no way to twist this.

  23. Sam on February 16th, 2011 11:14 am

    @ Bobby –

    The land the casino is on is on Trust land not state land. Feel free to check. Thus, the reason why the casino has not been included with all of the other casino closures.

  24. v8terror on February 16th, 2011 11:01 am


  25. Bobby on February 16th, 2011 10:25 am

    Poarch is NOT covered by the Indian Gaming Act because the casino is not on the reservation. The casino is on state regulated land. Only the orininal land deeded to the Porch Creek for their reservation is immune from state authority and no land purchased by the tribe after the original deed is protected from state sanction. The U.S. Supreme Court just rulled on a similar case like this about 1 1/2 years ago. There was a big write up in the local papers and attorney’s for Poarch Creek said that the ruling was potentially devastating for the future of the casino.

  26. judith on February 16th, 2011 10:23 am

    do you understand the crime here now and the wrecks that are happening and the traffic is terrible on highway 21 you can almost get runover and have to hit the ditch if you want all this have it in your town we are sick of satan in our back door

  27. Stu on February 16th, 2011 10:04 am

    While the City / State may not get tax revenue directly from PCI, PCI has donated more to Atmore Area Schools, service organizations, and community groups in the last year than any other entity in our area.

    PCI also brings traffic to other area businesses that collect various forms of taxes as well.

  28. Dale on February 16th, 2011 9:55 am

    Alabama is not getting charity from the Indian Casinos to help with much needed funding for education and hummanitarian programs. All gaming is closed in Alabama except the Indians. The creek indians have locked down the payouts on their machines drastically and why? Because they can – they have no competition.

    State, city and local governments are not receiving any funds from those spending their money on slots (like sales tax, etc.). In addition, has any one thought that people may need to steal or commit crime to gamble?

  29. hmm... on February 16th, 2011 9:46 am

    I think there are other more pressing issues in Alabama that the government needs to focus their attention on besides gambling and bingo. Set priorities!!!

  30. Ken on February 16th, 2011 8:56 am

    Less than a month into their terms and already showing that they don’t have a clue. At least Wind Creek has brought jobs to our area. They want to stop this??!! Other states are considering building casinos! Moving Alabama backwards? Great job guys.

  31. GirlnGreen on February 16th, 2011 8:20 am

    Hummmmmmm Ronnie Gilley in Atmore????? Leave Wind Creek alone. Hey I’d drive to Alabamas closed Country Crossings just for the shows and a fast get away. (Which Ive also traveled ot wind creek for the same reasons, never even put a penny in the machines) Buuuuuuuut It’s closed by Alabama government!!! Way to close jobs and money into a podunk lil town!!!

  32. Rebecca on February 16th, 2011 8:16 am

    The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in the late 1980s states this is covered by the federal government and if a state fails to comply a tribe can bring suit in federal court forcing the state to comply.

  33. my2cents on February 16th, 2011 7:46 am

    How interesting. The comeback will be that this is federal and not state.

  34. Darryl on February 16th, 2011 7:44 am

    People will play whether it is legal or not, so why make criminals out of people just for playing bingo. What will he try next? Another round of Prohibition. Nothing like making ordinary citizens criminals or doing legislation that creates a nice black market for much more series crimes to flourish.

    Has Alabama solved all of its serious problems so he needs something to do?

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