11 months ago

Poarch Band of Creek Indians propose compact that could pay billions to State of Alabama

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) on Tuesday officially rolled out “Winning for Alabama” — a public awareness campaign focused on communicating details of their new comprehensive plan for gaming in the Yellowhammer State.

The PCI plan would be a historic boost to Alabama’s coffers, according to projections.

The proposal would see the PCI enter into a compact with the state, in which the tribe gets exclusive gaming rights in the state. This agreement would allow the PCI to operate Class III gaming, or what is commonly known as traditional casino and table gaming.

Per PCI estimates, the tribe would pay the state over one billion dollars after the first year — $725 million from license fees and compact exclusivity, as well as nearly $350 million in annual taxes from new development and revenue share on Class III games at existing sites.

This new development would consist of “[t]wo additional first-class gaming and tourism destination sites with unlimited gaming (black jack, craps, and other table games, a sports book, and top-notch hotels, restaurants, spas, and other amenities),” according to the Winning for Alabama website.

In a video posted on that website, the PCI asks the important question, “What could Alabama do with a billion dollars?”

Additionally, the comprehensive plan underlines the PCI’s continued support for a clean, traditional lottery.

Such a lottery would generate significant additional revenue for the state, which was not included in PCI’s projections.

State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) sponsored a clean lottery bill that passed the State Senate this spring but was defeated in the lower chamber. Albritton had estimated annual revenues for the state through his legislation at approximately $170 million.

In addition to extra revenue that would stem from a lottery, the PCI plan would create “thousands” of new jobs through its new development and add Class III gaming to existing sites. The two new developments would be “in the northern part of” Alabama, according to a PCI press release. Gaming involved in the plan would be regulated.

In a statement, PCI Tribal Chair and CEO Stephanie Bryan said, “We have long believed that the economic power of gaming should be strategically harnessed to create opportunities for everyone who lives in Alabama. This plan does that, and we are committed to making sure that our positions on gaming and our commitment to helping improve the quality of life in Alabama are clear.”

The release of Winning for Alabama follows the formation of the so-called “Poarch Creek Accountability Now” — what a PCI press release dubbed as “a public misinformation campaign funded by an anonymous group.”

“The sole purpose of that group’s work was to misrepresent the Tribe’s position on gaming in the State, confuse the issues surrounding gaming regulation and taxation, and damage Poarch’s reputation,” the release added.

The Winning for Alabama website provides facts countering much of this “misinformation.”

The website also gives citizens a platform to voice their opinions on specific gaming issues and make their needs heard.

“We hope that the information we are making available will prompt both citizens and our State’s legislators to seriously consider a solid plan for gaming that can have real economic benefits for Alabama,” Bryan concluded. “We believe that it is important everyone in the State has access to honest information and constructive ideas so they can make the best decisions about an issue that is critically important to Alabama’s economic well-being and quality of life.”

Is it time?

Relevant to the issue at hand, Yellowhammer News recently obtained polling data that shows a plurality of Republican primary voters in Alabama support legalizing casino gaming while a strong majority of the same demographic supports a state-run lottery.

The survey was conducted October 10-12 by Montgomery-based Cygnal on behalf of the Alabama House Republican Caucus. There were 536 respondents, with a margin of error of 4.23%.

When asking about a constitutional amendment allowing a state lottery, 64.6% indicated their support and 30.2% opposed. This included 46% who strongly supported the lottery and 22.9% who strongly opposed.

Support varies across media markets for the lottery. In the Mobile market, 72.9% supported while only 19.1% opposed. Then comes the Huntsville (70.3% – 26.4%), Birmingham (63% – 32%) and Montgomery (56.3% – 38.1%) markets, respectively.

In a separate question, 49.7% of respondents chose public education as their ideal beneficiary for lottery revenues. The next highest response was infrastructure at 20.6%. Medicaid expansion (7.4%) came in below options such as “doesn’t matter.”

When it comes to legalizing casino gaming in Alabama, 49% were supportive and 45.6% opposed.

In the Mobile (61.4%) and Birmingham (50.4%) media markets each, a majority supported casino gaming. The Montgomery media market is the only region where casino gaming’s support is underwater — 56.8% opposed and 39.9% supported. In Huntsville, 47.9% supported and 44.5% opposed.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

32 mins ago

Alabama surge needed in 2020 Census participation

It’s the final week of the 2020 Census, and Alabama is counting on every household to submit its survey by Sept. 30. This quick, easy questionnaire collects information that determines Alabama’s federal representation in the U.S. Congress and funding levels for the next decade.

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Help shape Alabama’s bottom line by completing the 2020 Census in one of three ways:

  1. Online at my2020census.gov.
  2. By phone at 1-844-330-2020.
  3. By traditional paper form you received in the mail.

Any information given in the 2020 Census is strictly protected by federal law.

A reduction in Alabama’s census could have adverse impacts to federally funded public service programs that affect every single resident.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, lawmakers, business owners and other entities will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, clinics, roads and more services for families, older adults and children. The results will also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

For information on the 2020 Census, get the facts here.

View the 2020 Census questions and learn why they are asked.

Visit Privacy and Security to read about how the U.S. Census Bureau protects your household information.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Racers coming to Alabama for world’s longest annual paddle race

Paddlers from across the United States will be racing each other down 650 miles of Alabama’s scenic rivers later this month in the Great Alabama 650, the world’s longest annual paddle race.

The second annual Great Alabama 650 begins Sept. 26 on Weiss Lake in Centre. Racers will have 10 days to reach Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay via the core section of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, the longest river trail in a single state. Laura Gaddy, communications director of the trail, said this year’s race will be different.

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“In 2019, racers with a wide range of skill level and paddling experience competed in the Great Alabama 650, but just three boats made it to the finish line,” Gaddy said. “Even advanced paddlers had to drop out of the race before finishing, underscoring that this race is best suited for paddlers with a proven record. Therefore, this year we limited registration to paddlers who have competed in previous races. As a result, this year’s class of entrants is even more competitive than the inaugural class.”

Paddlers compete in nation’s longest state river trail from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The field features 16 racers, including 2019 overall winner Bobby Johnson, as well as female solo winner Sallie O’Donnell and Alabama native Ryan Gillikin. Johnson covered more than 85 miles per day to finish the race in seven days, 8 hours, 1 minute and 55 seconds.

“Several of our racers have not only completed some of the toughest paddle races in the world, they have won them,” Gaddy said. “Some are or have been professional paddlers. Others have represented the United States in paddling competitions abroad.”

Alabama’s diverse habitats are on full display during the race as competitors experience rushing whitewater, ambling river delta and everything in between. The course includes portages around several Alabama Power dams.

“The Great Alabama 650 elevates our state to the international stage and points to the 600-plus-mile Alabama Scenic River Trail as one of the premiere paddle destinations in the United States,” Gaddy said. “Even the most competitive athletes can be encumbered by the unpredictable challenges presented by the natural world. This is a race to watch.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced race organizers to restrict portages to race staff, crews and racers. Gaddy said there are still plenty of ways for fans to cheer on the racers.

“There are several ways to track the progress of the competitors without leaving your home,” Gaddy said. “Race updates are reported on our Facebook and Instagram accounts, and viewers can visit AL650.com to see our live map, which is updated at least every 2 minutes.”

Viewers can also track the race on social media using the race hashtag #AL650, which may link viewers to behind-the-scene photos posted by racers and their crew members.

“Last year several people with a waterfront property also stood out on their piers to cheer the racers,” Gaddy said. “Some even made signs. When the racers made it to the finish line, they said that the support they received from these spectators helped them to keep going when the race got tough.”

The race, which is sponsored this year by Cahaba BrewingMustang SurvivalMammoth Clothing and Alabama Power, begins Sept. 26 on Weiss Lake in Centre. The prize purse will be awarded across three categories: Male Solo, Female Solo and Team. To follow the progress of the competition or to learn more, visit al650.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Nick Saban: Time for Crimson Tide to flip switch from practice to game mode

Alabama coach Nick Saban said his Crimson Tide football team is showing the right effort and intensity in practice, but it’s time to flip the switch and start finishing plays like they would in a game.

“We haven’t played a game in a long time,” Saban said. “We’ve got to get out of practice mode and make sure we’re practicing to develop the habits that are gonna become a part of our DNA as competitors in terms of how we play in a game.”

Alabama opens the season on the road against Missouri at 6 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Nick Saban: Crimson Tide focuses on finishing as season kickoff approaches from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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5 hours ago

College football picks — SEC week 1 and more

The Season of Sankey officially gets underway today. The SEC takes the field for the first time this fall as a result of conference commissioner Greg Sankey’s well-planned approach to playing football amid COVID-19 conditions.

During the last two weeks, a parade of conferences have backtracked on plans to cancel their seasons and put in place schedules set to kick off beginning next month. If only they had followed one simple rule: be more like Sankey.

No doubt the season will be unusual. Expect the unexpected. And, as always, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Here are a few picks.

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THE BASICS

No. 2 Alabama (-29) at Missouri: The Crimson Tide have the fewest non-COVID questions of any team in the country. They also have the most talented roster. Missouri will have a tough time scoring while Nick Saban gets to pick his team’s score.

The pick: Alabama 41, Missouri 9

No. 4 Georgia (-28) at Arkansas: Not a lot of intrigue here, either. The D’Wan Mathis era begins. Georgia wins. Maybe the only real question is: how will Kirby Smart handle dipping and wearing a mask at the same time?

The pick: Georgia 34, Arkansas 7

No. 5 Florida (-14) at Ole Miss: Everyone loves Lane. We get it. But there is a difference in these rosters. Through rain, sleet or snow — or direct deposit — Kiffin will recruit better talent to Oxford in the coming years. Right now, Florida is a markedly better team top-to-bottom.

The pick: Florida 52, Ole Miss 20

No. 8 Auburn (-6.5) at Kentucky: Everyone and their momma is taking Kentucky and the points in this game, not to mention the number of people picking the outright upset. Is it bowl game fatigue? Is it Auburn’s losses on the defensive line? We don’t know. What we do know is that Chad Morris may be the best offensive coordinator in the country if Gus Malzahn lets him cook.

The pick: Auburn 35, Kentucky 24

BUYER BEWARE

No. 16 Tennessee (-3.5) at South Carolina: This is a “the barely proven head coach got a raise the week before playing the first game” pick. Plus, South Carolina finally has some actual structure on offense with the addition of Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator and a serviceable starter at quarterback in Collin Hill.

The pick: South Carolina 20, Tennessee 16

West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma State (-6.5): This pick breaks two important rules: 1) don’t make a pick because of a coach, and 2) be very wary of the heavily public side. Neal Brown is a rising star. Mike Gundy is something other than that. Neither team has played a game that matters yet, but they looked very different in their respective first weeks. Let’s join the crowd.

The pick: West Virginia 30, Oklahoma State 21

BONUS

Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU (-16.5): How can we not make a pick in the first-ever SEC game coached by two non-English speakers? All offseason we have heard people ponder about whether Mike Leach’s system will work in the SEC. Any system will work if you have good enough players. The Bulldogs currently do not. On the other hand, one can only imagine the carnage in Baton Rouge post-national championship. At least Coach O gave us this gem.

The pick: LSU 33, Mississippi State 16

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

6 hours ago

Gus Malzahn: Auburn ready to host Kentucky, kick off delayed season

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he is happy game week has finally arrived, even though he knows his Auburn Tigers football team will be tested by the visiting Kentucky Wildcats.

“It’s been a long time coming to get to this point,” Malzahn said. “We’re playing a really good Kentucky Wildcat team. When you look at them offensively, last year they were one of the best rushing teams in all of college football. To be able to do that in this league says a lot.”

But Malzahn said he is also impressed by his own squad.

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“Overall, I’m really excited about this year’s team,” he said. “We have all kinds of new faces out there. I believe we have 13 new starters, so I’m really excited to watch this team grow. I really feel that if we stay healthy, we’ll have a chance to improve each game, and of course with 10 SEC games, it’s important for teams to improve throughout the year. I’m really looking forward to watching our guys play. I’m excited.”

Auburn hosts the Wildcats at 11 a.m. Sept. 26 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Gus Malzahn: Kentucky presents a challenge for Auburn’s opener from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)