Alabama Attorney General Takes Aim At Indian Gaming

April 30, 2012

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is asking the National Indian Gaming Commission to prohibit electronic bingo machines that are slot machine-like at Indian casinos in the state.

Indian casinos in the state, including Wind Creek in Atmore, are prohibited from offering Las-Vegas style Class III games because there is no agreement allowing them with the state.  Bingo games, known as Class II gambling games, are allowed.

“In Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians operate Class II gambling that approximates the same kind of slot machine gambling that one might find in Las Vegas or Atlantic City,” Strange wrote in his letter to the Indian Gaming Commission.

“The Tribe’s ability to obscure the line between Class II and III makes it harder for my office to enforce Alabama law outside of Indian land. Alabama citizens are understandably confused when Indian tribes are allowed to call their Class III slot machines ‘bingo,’ but gambling promoters within the State’s jurisdiction cannot use the same gimmick,” Strange wrote.

According to Strange, proposed Class II gambling game rules “do nothing to give teeth to the important distinction” between what is a bingo game and what is a slot machine.

Historically, Strange has argued that the slot machine-like games offered by the Poarch Creek Indians are illegal under federal regulations.

The Alabama Attorney General is asking the National Indian Gaming Commission to “make clear that Native American Indian tribes located in Alabama cannot engage in gambling activities that are patently illegal under Alabama law”.


52 Responses to “Alabama Attorney General Takes Aim At Indian Gaming”

  1. Susan on May 8th, 2012 7:43 am

    It is really simple and no one seems to understand that the issue is exactly what is electronic bingo? Strange says the machines that class IIi are not allowed in ALA. Well electronic bingo does exist all over the US so the question is what do people use when playing electronic bingo? Every state I have ever been in that has electronic bingo games uses a machine that looks and acts like a slot machine. My question is are there any other forms of electronic bingo that exist? If not then Mr. Strange is saying that no such thing as electronic bingo exists and he is wrong as the world can invent electronic bingo and it can look like a slot and still be electronic bingo class ii gaming. He needs to stop his ridculous argument between class 11 and class 111 and at least be honest and say he believes there is no such thing as electronic bingo and then someone can have a valid argument with him.

  2. Duke of Wabeek on May 4th, 2012 10:12 am

    It was not my intention to stir the pot. I may have become a little emotional on
    this matter. I have always worked hard and paid my taxes. My father always
    said give unto Ceasar that which belongs to Ceasar. I will not comment further
    on this matter. When I die one day I can say with a clean conscience Lord
    prepare to recieve thou humble servant.

  3. Betty on May 4th, 2012 6:33 am

    I am in Milton and myself and lots of people I know go to Wind Creek just for night out to have dinner on seafood night. The kids and grandkids go and we make a fun night of it. Not everyone gambles but I would if we went without the little ones.If I lived there I would be grateful for the jobs that the PCI provide and support them rather than try to find ways to punish them.

  4. Betty King on May 3rd, 2012 12:39 pm

    Why does Alabama not wake up and approve gambling in the state. Think of all the advantages, it would help our economy in so many ways. Airports,motels,resturants,alll types of stores, and most of this will be from out of state money. Plus the fact of all the jobs it will create. The taxes would help our state. Our politicians, and church people will not have to go to Las Vegas, and out of state Not all church people are against going to a casino.
    People talk about people going and spending money that the family needs. What about the bars, it takes money the family needs too.
    We have too much government now. They stick their nose in things that should be a persons right. When they should be working on things to make our state a better place to live in. Leave the Indians alone.

  5. roll#0455 on May 3rd, 2012 6:30 am

    I’ll be glad when all this passes so hundreds and hundreds of empolyee’s won’t have to worry about their jobs being taken from them.

  6. Satisfied on May 2nd, 2012 11:55 pm

    You know I am one who enjoys a real family outing. Relaxing environment with excellent food. Even a good movie afterwards in a private room. Then a massage, maybe a dip in a wonderful endless pool. Who knows maybe a hot tub and and some late night catering service. And more movies. And an awesome nights sleep in a bed you won’t believe exists till you try it. All with Fido included. Thank you Wind Creek for allowing that to happen. No where else in our county can I take my children, my family, and my pets and feel as pampered and complete!

  7. Front-and-center on May 1st, 2012 8:44 pm

    Anyone who believes the entire Esco commission wasn’t in on this is blind. Vote for the opposition whoever it may be. Atmore people seem to think if u coach little league or serve as a deacon that’s all it takes to make u a govt official…didn’t God give u a brain to consider what these people stand for? Make these politicians accountable!

  8. Woo Hoo!!! on May 1st, 2012 3:40 pm

    Very good job Enough…….
    You summed it all up very well.

  9. Gaye on May 1st, 2012 10:11 am

    Alabama, one of the poorest states in the nation, due mostly to the worse run government in the world, is now trying to cut revenue to the state by millions of dollars….which will hurt education, hospitals, roads, new business coming into the state, etc….what are these numnuts using for brains. . . I hope the Indians shove this action up their butts…I’m still appalled, that in their wisdom, they closed down the casino in Shorter, putting thousands of Macon County residents out of work when the unemployment rate was at an all time low, again, what are they thinking…people are going to gamble, keep the revenue in the state, don’t send it to Mississippi…and stop doing these things in the name of religion, religion is the reason planes flew into the towers, this is just as stupid/bad

  10. Enough on May 1st, 2012 8:54 am

    @ the duke of wawbeek, all you do is stir the pot, I’ve lived in this area all my life and the only person in wawbeek who would even come close to being a duke is a farmer and business man. He would not have time to sit around doing nothing but spreading hate. As for the State of Alalabama coming in and taking over the casino and turning it into a retirement home, it won’t happen. The tribe owns the building and the land, we could only hope that they target you and your property and see how you like it. You seem to be an angry person with a chip on you shoulders, try thinking of something positive and maybe you will feel better, my mother always told me people like to spread negative thoughts around about other people because it keeps the light off them and you are a fine example of that!!

  11. JRES on May 1st, 2012 8:48 am

    Really! cmon alabama, yall are going to spend millions of hard working tax paying citizens money to fight a problem with PCI? Here’s some breaking news, the unemployment rate is up. lets spend my tax money finding jobs for the unemployed. It seems as though alabama has not figured out that jobless people are more out to rob or commit a crime, than someone who has a job. I could care less what the PCI have, at least they are offering jobs to people. Oh i forgot, our commisioners all have good paying jobs and are not concerned about ole hard working joe who’s out of work right now.

  12. Mattw on May 1st, 2012 6:33 am

    @ MeME:

    Actually ….Indian Reservations are not sovereign nations, but they are sovereign and independent entities, under the authority of the federal government, like the 50 states. Unlike the states, the balance of power between them and the federal government is not defined in the Constitution, but through Congressional legislation, a series of treaties, and a couple hundred years of case law… So if they are in fact in violation of federal regulations for the state of Alabama… then they should just get new machines… Indian Reservations are not above federal law although some people apparently think so…

  13. 429SCJ on May 1st, 2012 3:24 am

    Amen Calit, I would suggest that the PCI hire good private investigators, everybody
    has dirt. Find the dirt on Strange and Bentley and close their mouths or destroy
    their political careers. These jokers want to play hardball, I say line drive em where it counts.

  14. Callit on April 30th, 2012 10:33 pm

    When I grew up around Atmore many years ago, being from Poarch meant you lived in a shanty shack, had very little belongings or hope, and your Daddy worked in the paper wood industry. Now after substantial efforts by PCI leadership over the years, Poarch Creek Indians are legitimate, respectable, educated people. The PCI was not in the headlights of State Government back then and they should not be there now. It’s very obvious that it’s all about the money and the State of Alabama is just trying to do legal robbery against these people who have endured and risen up from a place less glamorous. The flow of money is like a magnet to greedy minded people. Politically powerful people have a strong magnetism. Most of us can see it. Your revenue source idea just might backfire on you, Mr. Strange.

  15. roll # 0455 on April 30th, 2012 9:45 pm

    If PCI goes down……..those of you who would celebrate, don’t feel bad when you see that the unemployment rate sky rockets back up and the previously employed begin begging for unemployment benefits.Rejoice, because you linked yourself up with those that worked to bring it to pass.Think if it were your job being cut out…..your family having to do without… not being able to buy medicine for your sick child…you being a single parent with one income trying to provide for your family…would you then be cheering on those who were trying to kill your job,would you be scared…it seems to me you are heartless and have no compassion.This is not all about “Indians” but real families of all creed and color who will suffer if those who oppose PCI continue to strive to choke the life out of Escambia County.Even if you have issue’s with PCI or gaming, or taxes…..think about the families who will suffer.This,to me is the bigger issue…the well being of all Americans.

  16. PCIandproud on April 30th, 2012 9:26 pm

    “In Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians operate Class II gambling that approximates the same kind of slot machine gambling that one might find in Las Vegas or Atlantic City,” Strange wrote in his letter to the Indian Gaming Commission……..Strange himself in his opening words states that the PCIs operate CLASS II GAMBLING. This is legal in the State, so what’s his issue? If he truly believes it is Class III, then why didn’t he begin his letter with “In Alabama, the PCIs are operating Class III…. In my opinion, he didn’t because he already knows the truth about the classification!

  17. christmas on April 30th, 2012 8:38 pm

    THE land that the indians claim is not on indian land atmore and has been run over with crime that is awful the hwy 21 is so bad with people almost cant get thru there fot the traffic if the indiaans wanted all this mess why didnt they put it on indian land they are out in the whole county with there cops, firemen where we have county and atmore also we dont need the gambling are there money most people are christian s who know better if they are in gods word just saying no money att all for them

  18. mick on April 30th, 2012 6:35 pm

    More eforts to keep alabama in the dark ages… cmmissioners are not looking out for the citizens of escambia county…you are dooming your own children and future generations to the same abject poverty that has been in this area for years. Look at all the bible thumpers going across the line to gamble on a snowball’s chance to win the lottery…your county elected officials…liars, theives everyone… why do you think they tax you all to death in the first place…no jobs, no future for the children…no incentive or desire to even stay in this area when you have such backward thinking idiots in office, living in the past wishing for the good ol days dont put food on the table or pay the mortgage

  19. Molino-Anon on April 30th, 2012 4:30 pm

    Strange this “action” comes around the same time local officials are requesting more money from PCI.

    Good buddy system is at it again, all the way to state level.

  20. Rufus Lowgun on April 30th, 2012 4:01 pm

    Is taxpayer money in Alabama really being spent to make sure the machines at Wind Creek are “bingo” and not “slots”? Seriously? What next, Alabama, going to launch an investigation into how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? if you are not totally anti-gambling, what in the world is the difference?

  21. John on April 30th, 2012 3:41 pm

    The State of Alabama should keep it’s nose out of indian affairs as the reservations are not controlled under the jurisdiction of the State and is protected under Federal law. The indians have brought more employment to this area and that is all that matters. As far as the moral issues, that is up to the individual.

  22. friction against the machine on April 30th, 2012 3:28 pm

    Yep, I agree with the first post from 12:50am…the fix is in….but every one of those commissioners deserve to be voted out of office…I don’t believe for one minute that any of them opposed this move. I think it’s all about as pre-planned as professional wrestling….they let one of them come out as opposed to it in order to save his skin meanwhile they were all in on the fix in my opinion.

    Remember this when the elections come around people.

  23. Duke of Wawbeek on April 30th, 2012 3:23 pm

    I will just be glad when this mess with the indians is over and done with. I just wish that
    things were as they were 50 years ago, order and everything in its place.

  24. Jen on April 30th, 2012 3:12 pm

    the casino has created many jobs and economic growth to the area….for it to be shut down will only increase the unemployment rate state and nationwide…I mean who gives a care if there is gambling in alabama or not there is no such thiings as morals in this country anymore anyway so i say let the gamblers gamble and the people who work there reap the benefits of drawing a paycheck,,and also the area will continue to expand and grow more and more businesses will come into play if the casino continues to expand and thrive…the government in alabama needs to shut their mouths and worry about more important issues than putting more people out of work…if they are really concerned about morals then they need to shut down all the porn stores in alabama…

  25. nudo on April 30th, 2012 2:32 pm

    No one is going to loose their job, the casino is going to close. Its about money. The state wants PCI to pay taxes. So they are finding ways to twist their arm.

  26. Bama54 on April 30th, 2012 2:17 pm

    JP Money given to the church is is for operating expenses, pastor, etc…and spreading Gods message as in missions.

  27. Duke of Wawbeek on April 30th, 2012 2:02 pm

    I think that when the State of Alabama takes ownership of the casino it should be
    turned into a retirement home. This will provide jobs for the people around Atmore and
    put the Creeks back on the reservation. What elese can you do with people that will
    not listen to reason? I know that Luther and Gov Bentley hate to be forced to move
    on these people but what choices are they left with. none

  28. lou on April 30th, 2012 1:17 pm

    because of all the Bible belters we have in Alabama, and our gov…atmore will continue to fail….very sad to know alabamians spend their money in other states on lottery, but alabama won’t give in….pitiful to see our state go down due to the thoughts of others…who probably go across the line to buy lottery tickets and claim that they dont…or they get someone else to buy them so no one sees them. And i KNOW this happens, I have seen some myself that balk at a state lottery. Its called DOUBLE STANDARDS!

  29. jp on April 30th, 2012 12:34 pm

    I see someone hit a nerve comparing gambling to stealing. You are correct, noone holds a gun on anyone making them deposit money in the slot machine.
    Noone holds a gun on drug users that steal and kill for the money to buy drugs,either. The quick comparison to gambling and church offerings leads me to know how little people know about the church and how it operates. Tithes are
    an expression of faith. God steals from noone, it is the people that pay their 10% to the casino rather than God that are theives. Of coarse, the casino is not the only vise in existance, but it is the current topic of conversation.

  30. Here we go again on April 30th, 2012 11:19 am

    For all of u commenting about Wind Creek not being a family oriented environment, well maybe you should know the facts before you speak, Wind Creek offers a spa, cooking classes, pool and recently have renovated a whole floor just for people who don’t like playing slots and for children who of course do not play slots. There are many people who just go in and eat. For me personally I CAN see the big picture and I do believe the tribe has brought many jobs and other businesses to our area, it’s just unfortunate that some people insist on jumping on the negative bang wagon regardless of what the issue is and they will always surround themselves with negativity.

  31. Jes on April 30th, 2012 11:13 am

    @Mike; I was basing that in the previous commenters definitions of stealing. If by their definition money given freely to a casino is stealing, than so it is the same with money given freely to church, or other donations. Bringing the church into it was a means of showing how ridiculous their claims are that the casino is stealing from people entering of their own free will.

  32. 429SCJ on April 30th, 2012 10:46 am

    Luther Strange does not seem to have a problem with pornography being peddled by the side of the highway in Alabama, then why should Luther have a problem with what the Creeks do on their Land, which is not Alabama land by federal law.

    I would just send the commission and the Governor’s office their payoffs and shut them
    up or let the gaming company settle matters out of court.

    If Casinos are a blight on Alabama then Porns Shops most certainly are in the same
    catagory. If the Creeks had the same friends in New Orleans that the porn shop owners
    have they would be accorded respect by these officals.

  33. mike on April 30th, 2012 10:21 am

    @Jess… How can you even use the church as an example of stealing peoples money. There is a difference, the church doesn’t take your money in hopes of you winning it back plus more. The church takes an offering that is given as a gift, or in some cases a tax write off, due the the fact it is a NON PROFIT organization. You can fuss and complain all you wish, but there is no need to bring the church in this. I live in Florida and have never agreed with gambling, so they want get any of my money. Truth be known, people are going to gamble and if they dont do it here, they will go to the next state and spend it there. If it were up to me I would ban it across the Nation, but I am only one man and one vote. It is nice for people to have jobs, I just wish it could be involved with something else.

  34. Scott on April 30th, 2012 9:29 am

    Class II machines being bingo machines are quite simple, each time you push the dub button anywhere from 12 to 42 digital bingo balls are drawn and if your numbers on your card match and you get a bingo, you get paid the desired amount. The reels and the game itself is for show only. The balls being drawn and your bingo card is what you must watch on the machine you are playing. Class III machines do not have bingo cards and balls to be drawn. Every machine in Wind creek casino has the bingo cards and digital balls located in the very top of the screen and the newer machines will have them in the bottom lower left hand corner.

    One of the biggest advantages to having class II gaming machines on the casinos floor is that the casino is not required to pay the state or gaming commission tax revenue each month for every machine present on their floor. Class III machines on the other hand must pay tax revenue on every machine on the floor. Biloxi and Las Vegas for example uses the class III gaming regulations.

  35. Al Malo on April 30th, 2012 9:23 am

    Let’s see, last week the County Commissioners petition the Feds for clarification, and now Strange needs “help.” Looks like a one-two punch, planned and coordinated. This will play out like a high stakes poker game. Does anyone know how much money a pursuit in court will cost All of us? Just what will we be getting in return? Morality is fine, but when you push it on others, I believe that you are crossing the line. How about a good old fashioned prayer meeting tent going up across from the reservation

  36. Just-a- thought on April 30th, 2012 9:20 am

    BAMA54- Yes I have been to dinner and a movie with my family. The key words here are “with my family”. How often do you take your minor children, or grandchildren, to the casino and and allow them to injoy this form of entertainment. The state wont allow minors near gambling machines. It could be that they are considered a bad influence on them. Perhaps the Creek nation
    should have their governing body rule that minors be allowed to gamble within the nation. They could crawl up to the machine, pull money from their diaper and enjoy the “entertainment” right along with you

  37. Jess on April 30th, 2012 9:14 am

    “However, in my opinion, gambling is no different than stealing. Afterall, the winnings are money you didn’t work for at the expense of someone who did. Have you ever set next to someone at a gaming machine and wondered it they are putting this months rent or grocery money in the machine in hopes they win it back plus some. Well it often does happen and seldom do they even break even much less win.”

    If I saw native Americans standing behind every machine with guns aimed at gamers heads, I would agree completely. They are not stealing, the money is given freely. How a fool spends their money is their business, not mine. And by your example, the church is stealing every Sunday when the pass around an offering plate. I mean, the offering is money they didn’t work for at the expense of someone that did. And I’m sure the politicians of this great state have “stolen” for more from not so willing to part with their hard earned money

  38. Ruby White on April 30th, 2012 8:36 am

    Why can’t they leave the Indians alone? I really think we the voters really need to think about who we put in office. We need Wind Creek for the county they have done so much to help the schools and the County. We the voters and residents of Escambia need to pull together and be heard. I am taking note and will be changing my votes come voting time. We need Lottery and Gambling in Alabama instead of giving our money to neighboring states!!

  39. Jason Cox on April 30th, 2012 8:03 am

    I suggest we allow the PCI to be totally tax free. The claim sovereignty. Lets look at that claim.
    : supreme excellence or an example of it
    a : supreme power especially over a body politic b : freedom from external control : autonomy

    You can’t be sovereign and be dependent on Federal Funds. Let them have all the gambling of any kind and cut all Federal support. Native Americans are the only conquered people in the history of man that were paid back for being conquered. If the casino generates as much revenue as PCI claims they can more than support themselves.

  40. BOGIAN on April 30th, 2012 7:46 am

    The issue here is not gaming. The issue here is the distinction between bingo machines and slot machines. The attorney general thinks that the tribe is skirting the rules that they agreed to follow. The distinction does not seem all that clear to me, and I don’t really care how people choose to lose their money. For some reason, the State does care.

    The argument that the tribe is its own nation is an interesting one, but I don’t think anyone actually buys it. If the tribe were to suddenly disregard State and Federal law, all goods coming and going into tribal lands should be taxed, movement should require a passport, and military protection should be withdrawn. If you want to be a nation, go for it. I think you’ll find it to be much more difficult than the selective separatism demonstrated here. You can’t have the benefits of independence without all of the burdens.

  41. Bama54 on April 30th, 2012 7:41 am

    Just-a- thought If you have ever been to a movie, dinner with the family then this may be consider entertainment!! “JUST LIKE WIND CREEK” it is entertainment for most who go. I am no “FOOL” but I do take the wife out to Wind Creek, just to have some fun!! I work hard for my money and will spend it like I please!!

  42. Old Bama Girl on April 30th, 2012 7:21 am

    Oh and Duke, you are an idiot. The only way that money could belongs to you is if you went to the casino and gambled it away. If that’s the case then it ceased to be yours the minute you put it in the machine.

  43. Old Bama Girl on April 30th, 2012 7:14 am

    In my opinion, the best thing the Tribe can do at this point is to suspend all financial donations to groups, charities, schools, etc. They give away more than most people know. If they stop giving this money out and let people know why they are stopping, then people are more apt to rally around the Tribe and speak up! I would then put all that money they have earmarked for endowment and charitable purposes in a legal fund to pay the lawyers fighting this mess. People, if you have been a recipient of any type of assistance from the Tribe, you need to make your thoughts known about this situation. And if you don’t think you have been helped by the Tribe because you’re not an Indian, I urge you to contact the Tribal Government and ask them for the names of some of the entities they have assisted. You will be surprised.

  44. Just-a- thought on April 30th, 2012 6:51 am

    It is a very good thing that our indian neighbors are beginning to prosper. I think the tobacco shop, hotels, gasoline station, etc. are a real asset to, not only the indians, but everyone else in the community as well.

    However, in my opinion, gambling is no different than stealing. Afterall, the winnings are money you didn’t work for at the expense of someone who did. Have you ever set next to someone at a gaming machine and wondered it they are putting this months rent or grocery money in the machine in hopes they win it back plus some. Well it often does happen and seldom do they even break even much less win.

    You can’t blame the indians as gambling is a very good business if you own the house. It is the poor, misguided fool who drops his, or her, money in the slot
    trying to “get rich quick” that makes the gambling system work. P. T. Barnam said
    a succer is born every minute. I guess he was right.

  45. CW on April 30th, 2012 6:32 am

    This is just getting ridiculous. What does the state prefer, a big empty building sitting there? Sure sounds like it.

  46. Duke of Wawbeek on April 30th, 2012 5:57 am

    When Luther gets through with these indians they will wish thay had given us OUR
    MONEY! Who did they think they were?

  47. Stan on April 30th, 2012 5:45 am

    Thats a big bingo palace

  48. MeMe on April 30th, 2012 5:32 am

    When will they realize you cant mess with the Indians? They have their own Government and can just about do what they want. Leave these people alone and let them continue to help with the jobs around here. They help alot of people not only with employment but other things as well. If you dont like it you dont have to go to the casinos..

  49. Avis on April 30th, 2012 3:34 am

    I thought this was all hashed out before the casino was built.

  50. Old Goldie on April 30th, 2012 3:14 am

    Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange needs to check how many unemployed we have in Alabama and in Atmore. The state is just trying to figure out some way they can get their hands on some of the Casino’s profits.

    So many locals depend on that place and he wants to take their jobs away??? I didn’t realize the unemployment and foods stamp agencies were over-flowing with money…..

    I think out with the old and in with the new – commissioners and town officials! The Creek Indians are a nation and I’m proud to be a descendant. If it weren’t for them Atmore would be a ghost town by now.

  51. huh on April 30th, 2012 1:07 am

    They should refuse to remove the machines and who cares what the state thinks. They are their own nation , I don’t see why the state is trying to destroy jobs . It hurts no one to have a casino, if you dont like it dont go its that simple. Let everyone have jobs

  52. strange luther on April 30th, 2012 12:50 am

    Strange timing. I think not. The last time local commisioners coordinated with a state official we got a garbage mountain of a dump. Those commisioners were replaced..time to elect new much for them representing the interests of the locals.