Faster, that is, than the Indian casinos in Mississippi, which flood Alabama television stations with ads telling gamblers that they have “real, Las Vegas casinos” while what Alabama has are merely pretenders.
Yet, despite Mississippi’s enticements, revenue from the Poarch Creek Indian Gaming operation grew 61 percent in
2010, according to a Mobile Press-Register analysis. That put the Poarch Creeks at the top of the 28 Indian casinos nationwide.
One reason for that success — perhaps the principle reason — is that Alabama has given its Indian casinos a monopoly on casino-style gambling.
Former Gov. Bob Riley’s crackdown on the Poarch Creek’s non-Indian competitors has left the Indian casinos as the only game in town — unless gamblers want to go out of state.
As one would expect, most gambling Alabamians apparently want to stay close to home.
There are conspiracy theorists who think Riley’s anti-gambling efforts were coordinated (and even financed) by the in-state Indians, but there is no proof to that allegation. Yes, Mississippi gambling interests did support anti-lottery/anti-gambling efforts in Alabama, but that was not connected with the Riley campaign.
What is ironic is that efforts to keep Alabamians from gambling (or, at least, get them to gamble in another state) seem to have backfired. Gambling is expanding, and the expansion is coming without state oversight.
We have noted previously that the Poarch Creeks have been good Alabamians. They have given money to schools and other worthy projects. However, because the state continues to balk at working out a gambling agreement with the Indians, all this is voluntary.
The recent unsuccessful vote-buying prosecution of members of Alabama’s gambling industry will surely result in a new effort by non-Indian gambling interests to reopen gaming operations that Riley closed. Casino operator Milton McGregor has already announced his re-opening plans. If those casinos are opened, and if Alabama authorities shut them down, the state will again spend money it doesn’t have to try cases a significant number of Alabamians don’t think should be tried.
Meanwhile, gambling Alabamians will continue to gamble and the Poarch Creeks will continue to make money.
Now is the time for state officials to sit down with Indian and non-Indian gambling interests and work out an arrangement where casino-style gambling can be regulated and where the state, as well as the gamblers, can benefit financially.
Otherwise, there will be more of what we have now, and what we have now is a mess.