Wetumpka Reacts to Lawsuit Seeking to Close Wind Creek Casino

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By Brittany Bivins

Attorney General Luther Strange says he's also cracking down on electronic bingo on Indian-owned lands. On Tuesday, he filed a lawsuit against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and their casinos, including Wind Creek Casino in Wetumpka.

The lawsuit says the electronic bingo machines at Wind Creek Casino are against the laws of the state. But some local officials are speaking out, saying the attorney general should have notified them before filing it.

Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis says he didn't know about the lawsuit until Tuesday morning. "It is a shock, it's a total shock to us that-we were blindsided, we didn't see it coming," said Willis.

He says Wind Creek Casino employs 600 people in his city, and he says he hasn't gotten complains about the casino from people in Wetumpka.

"I have not heard an uprising from the public, so where's the uprising coming from, that's driving this? I do not know," said Willis.

The machines are on Indian property, so state officials can't seize them, but Attorney General Luther Strange says he's cracking down on illegal gambling, no matter where it is. Still, not everyone in Wetumpka thinks shutting down Wind Creek Casino is the best thing for their community.

"I think it's a lot of bull, I think it should stay open, I think they're doing a lot of good things for Wetumpka, they're coming up with a nice motel, making the whole city grow," said Ronnie Brown, who likes to play at the casino.

"I think it would hurt a little bit, you know, if it was shut down, I think a lot of people who come through here are coming for the casino, so I think it would probably hurt," said Bradley Roberson, who lives in Wetumpka.

However, Jerry Willis says if state officials were going to do something about the Wind Creek Casino, they should have done it before now. He says the City of Wetumpka and Elmore County have already agreed to pay $36,000 on a study of the economic impact of Wind Creek Casino. He says he thinks the attorney general should have told him this lawsuit was coming before that decision was made.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians released a statement today, saying the lawsuit has no merit, because the land is governed by federal, not state law.



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