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Poarch Creek Indians’ Robbie McGhee: We don’t mind supporting a lottery ‘if it is something good for the state of Alabama’

The possibility of a lottery in Alabama’s future is something that has been put forth by both gubernatorial candidates, incumbent Republican Gov. Kay Ivey and Democratic nominee Tuscaloosa Walt Maddox in recent weeks. In an interview that aired on Huntsville’s WHNT on Friday, State House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has gone as far as predicting the legislature would take up lottery bill during the 2019 session.

Given that, it is looking more likely voters may have an opportunity to vote up or down on a lottery for Alabama. One place that it appears less likely a lottery would run into opposition is from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI), which operate three casinos in Alabama.

In an interview that aired on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” on Friday, PCI’s governmental relations advisor Robbie McGhee indicated his tribe would not oppose a lottery given this renewed interest in it.

“It is something we have spoken to in the past that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians doesn’t have a problem with the lottery,” McGhee said.

McGhee explained there would be little impact on PCI’s gaming interest from a lottery, and noted that one of their casinos was 10 miles from the Florida state line, where the lottery is legal.

“Many people have asked, ‘Would a lottery have an economic impact on the tribe with what they do with the bricks and mortars?’” he said. “We’ve done a lot of various studies, and various tribes across the United States have done studies, and they really don’t.”

“One of our casino locations, of course, is in Atmore, Alabama – probably 10 miles from the Florida line where a lottery is sold,” he continued. “And we have many people within that area that play. And so, we don’t feel it would have an economic impact, and that’s why we said we don’t mind supporting it if it is something good for the state of Alabama.”

One concern some have raised is that if the lottery is legalized, might that give the Poarch Band of Creek Indians the ability to expand its gaming offering. According to McGhee, not necessarily.

“I think there’s some confusion out there regarding if a lottery passed, does that mean that the tribe automatically, in the [Indian] Gaming and Regulatory Act, have the ability to conduct Class 3 gaming?” McGhee said. “I’m not an attorney, but you can look at various law reviews and various opinions. And it all comes down to it’s still illegal in the state of Alabama. However, it is still considered a Class 3 game under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. However, within the state of Alabama, you also have other games that’s still illegal within the constitution. So it doesn’t mean that automatically that the tribe can go out and operate these games.”

“What it does mean is that the discussion should start taking place that Class 3 gaming is still allowed in the state, how about we sitting down with the state of Alabama and the governor’s office to negotiate a compact … to make sure that the state can work out an agreement with the tribe that’s beneficial to both parties.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

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