ATMORE, Ala. (WALA) - In a recent announcement from the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), the agency said the State of Alabama cannot interfere when it comes to casino gaming on Indian reservations. This comes after years of struggle between the state and the Poarch Creek Indians. When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was established in 1988, it allowed casinos on Native American-held land in Alabama.
Carl Anderson, owner of the Tot Shop in Atmore said the casino is doing good for the community.
"It's pretty clearly established in other states that they have a legal right to be doing what they're doing. They're all over the place. Why would that be different here," said Anderson. "It means a lot of jobs. It means economic development. If they were to shut it down, it would have a major impact on this town."
For years now, the Wind Creek Casino has served as a money maker in and around the community of Atmore. For residents and local business owners, the recent statement from the NIGC reassures them it's here to stay.
But Attorney General Luther Strange said otherwise. In a statement Wednesday, March 20, Strange said:
"As I have said previously, the NIGC intends to let the Poarch Band play so-called "electronic bingo" in three huge for-profit casinos, as long as a charity paper bingo is legal in Alabama. I disagree that federal law gives the Poarch Band the right to ignore state law in that way, and I expect that my lawsuit against the tribe will determine who is right."
Atmore residents find the state's stance hard to comprehend. The Wind Creek Casino alone has donated millions of dollars to area causes within the past few years, including $950,000 to an area hospital and over $2 million to local schools.
"I really don't understand it. It seems like he wants to do what he wants to do, and he is not going to be deterred from doing it," said Anderson when referring to Strange.
The reaction in the town is much of the same.
FOX10 News reached out to the Poarch Creek Band for comment. Due to litigation, but they declined an interview.
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