North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Opinion

May 3, 2012

Our Views: Why should Creeks have slot machines?

AN NJN EDITORIAL — Did you ever wonder why folks like Milton McGregor couldn’t have electronic bingo machines legally, but Native American tribes could?

What a coincidence. So did Attorney General Luther Strange.

That’s why he is asking  the National Indian Gaming Commission — the federal regulatory agency that oversees tribal casinos across the county, including the Choctaw facilities near Meridian, Miss. — to tell the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to shut down their casinos in Alabama.

It makes sense, after all. Tribes are only supposed to have the same kind of gaming allowed for any other operator in the state, unless a compact with the state is agreed to. The Creeks and the state have no such compact, so federal laws are in force. (Remember that tribal lands are considered sovereign and self-governing —states can do little to regulate them unless there’s an agreement to allow it.)

Strange has made it clear that he considers so-called electronic bingo machines to be illegal, at least those which strongly resemble the true slot machines found in Mississippi.

But if you go into one of Poarch Gaming’s halls in Atmore, Wetumpka or suburban Montgomery, you will see row upon row of machines that look just like “Class III” machines, as the regulators call them. Even some of the names are the same that you would find in Biloxi or Tunica. It’s a distinction with very little difference.

It’s yet another reason to settle this issue once and for all, preferably with a referendum to amend the constitution. Let the people decide whether they want casino-style gambling, and to what degree, since our hired hands in Montgomery can’t seem to do it themselves.

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