The Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PBCI), a casino operator with three resorts in their home state of Alabama, is on the defensive against a nonprofit that wants the tribe’s gaming revenue taxed.
Poarch Creek Accountability Now (PCAN) is a 501c(4) nonprofit entity. The Internal Revenue Service classifies such organizations as groups formed “exclusively to promote social welfare.”
Led by former Alabama Senator Gerald Dial (R), PCAN argues that the tribe should be required to pay taxes on its casino profits. The group is spending heavily in the Cotton State to get out its message through an advertising blitz.
Who’s behind the nonprofit? No one knows.
The problem is not who’s funding it,” Dial told AL.com. “Y’all want to make it a problem of who’s funding it.”
“The problem is what’s happening in Alabama and the fact that they’re taking our money created from our gambling facilities and investing in other states and paying taxes and helping schools and roads in other states. But they’re not willing to sit down and compromise on doing some kind of issue that would help us resolve the whole issue and pay some state taxes,” Dial declared.
Those backing PCAN seem to be most motivated by Alabama’s failure to legalize a lottery. It is one of just five states without a lottery – the others being Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.
The lottery comes up each year in the Alabama Legislature, but is routinely shot down because of varying interests. Alabama’s only federally recognized tribe doesn’t oppose a state lottery, but is against allowing lottery machines from being placed at state racetracks – something legislators representing jurisdictions with the racing venues insist on.
The Poarch Indians have donated $1.3 million to candidates and political action committees since 2018.
The PBCI’s Wind Creek Hospitality is the tribe’s gaming entity that operates the three Alabama casinos – Wind Creek Atmore, Wind Creek Montgomery, and Wind Creek Wetumpka. All three are on sovereign territory and authorized for Class I and II gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) – bingo and non-banked card games.
The Alabama casinos offer electronic bingo machines that critics say too closely resemble slots, which aren’t permitted. For the state to tax gross gaming revenue at the tribe’s casinos, it would need to enter into a compact with the Native American group and permit Class III gaming (slot machines and table games).
Dial contests that Alabama’s inability to tax tribal gaming proceeds has allowed the Poarch people to flourish and take their winnings elsewhere. The tribe recently acquired the Sands Bethlehem casino in Pennsylvania for $1.3 billion, and also owns properties in Nevada, Florida, Aruba, and Curacao.
The tribe says it’s ready to negotiate a compact in Alabama and “provide a fair and well-regulated framework for gaming in our state.” As for what it believes is a smear campaign against its community, the PBCI said the tribe “cannot begin to understand their motivation for spending funds on a website and paid advertising built on lies and misinformation.”
We would suggest they consider refocusing their attention on making Alabama a better place to work and live for all of us who love our State,” the PBCI concluded.
Earlier this year, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians covered funeral expenses for all 23 victims of an Alabama tornado, and made a $25,000 donation to relief efforts.