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Just admit it — The Poarch Creek Accountability Now is an ‘electronic bingo’ (slot machine) front group

A new interest group, Poarch Creek Accountability Now, is up running ads on radio and online in Alabama.

The group has an odd strategy for addressing gambling concerns in the state of Alabama: Refuse to be transparent about who is funding them and be shocked when the Indians don’t support plans to disrupt their business.

Former State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) is the executive director for Poarch Creek Accountability Now. In an interview Wednesday on WVNN, Dial refused to acknowledge who was funding the group.

Dial argued Wednesday that the secrecy is for their protection, and added that they shouldn’t be known, comparing the group’s financial backers to someone in prison who has ratted on other prisoners.

This is obviously the completely wrong position to take. This fight needs to take place, but it needs to be transparent and open rather than with shady dark money being thrown around on each side.

Any regular follower of Alabama politics will clearly see this as a group with likely funding coming from the quasi-legal gambling interests that operate “electronic bingo” in the state.

We say “electronic bingo,” but, of course, we mean “slot machines with extra steps.”

The dog tracks, the state and the Poarch Creek Indians (PCI) have long fought each other over the legality of electronic bingo and other forms of gambling that have been given the greenlight by locals, then ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, with inconsistent enforcement by various attorney generals.

The Indians, of course, don’t want any gambling of any kind to be expanded that they can’t control or benefit from (besides a clean lottery, which they have consistently said they support). They are running a business after all.

But that is exactly the solution being offered by Dial and his group.

Dial explained, “The Poarch Creek in Alabama are the only legalized casinos operating in America where they don’t have a compact with the state and pay any money to the state.”

Of course, this is somewhat true (they still have a large economic and philanthropic impact on the state taxes on gambling operations aside), but Dial continued to argue, “The Indians continually say they want to be a good citizen and contribute to their state so why would they not sign a compact with the governor?”

The answer is pretty obvious: money.

Why would the Poarch Creek Indians agree to a bill that would give them more competition, risk losing millions of dollars and increase their costs?

The competition would come in the form of outright legalizing the quasi-legal gaming operating in the state.

What do the PCI get out of this deal? The opportunity to pay more money to the state of Alabama without an expansion of their gaming operation?

Who willfully does this?

No one.

This argument from the dog tracks – excuse me, from “Poarch Creek Accountability Now” – that the state should expand gambling and that the Indians will somehow just get on board is absolutely bonkers.

Their ideal situation according to Dial is this:

  • Create a gaming commission
  • Legalize current gaming
  • Creates a lottery
  • Creates a scholarship commission
  • Allow the governor to sign a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians
  • Have the PCI pay taxes to the state of Alabama without expanding their interests

And that is never going to happen.

Any compact would have to include expanded gaming for the PCI to make any sense.

Gerald Dial needs to stop pretending he’s working for Alabama, admit he’s working for the dog tracks and that is a fine thing for him to do and find a solution that might actually bring everyone to the table.

Until then, this issue of gambling will continue to go nowhere, with lots of money being thrown down the drain in the process.

If you like the status quo on gambling in this state, these moves are good for you.

Listen:Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.