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Joined: 30 Dec 2005
Posts: 1
Location: Atlanta, GA
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:45 am    Post subject: Ft. Payne Casino Coming! Reply with quote

Feds control gaming

By Mark Harrison
The Times-Journal

Published January 14, 2006

Those opposed to Indian casino gambling in Fort Payne will have to take it up with the federal government or the Indian Nation.

One elected federal official, Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, who represents the district that includes Fort Payne, said through his chief of staff Friday that he intends to oppose a move to bring Indian-sponsored gambling to Fort Payne.

Aderholt has previously written letters to the Department of the Interior opposing expansion Indian gambling in other parts of the country

“[Aderholt] will contact every resource of the federal government to keep a casino from being built in Fort Payne,” Chief of State Hood Harris said Friday.

“Congressman Aderholt has been a strong opponent of the expansion of gambling and certainly here in his own back yard he would use whatever influence he had with the Department of the Interior.”

Aderholt was one of the state’s elected officials ties to the recent scandal involving disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, which was tied to Indian gambling issues.

Aderholt received a $250 campaign contribution from Abramoff a decade ago, and recently announced he would make a $250 donation to a Fourth District pro-life group to offset that donation.

The Abramoff scandal also implicated the Alabama Christian Coalition, a group ostensibly opposed to gambling, and one that has traditionally supported GOP candidates on the basis of moral issues. Allegedly, the group was used to funnel money to oppose an attempt by former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to pass a state lottery, on behalf of other, competing gambling interests.

Whether or not that group – or others – will emerge to oppose a casino locating in Fort Payne is unclear. So far, Aderholt is the only official voicing public opposition and state and local officials could opt to remain mum because they ultimately have no authority over the matter.

The regulation of any Indian casino , would be strictly a federal matter, according to the Alabama Attorney General’s office.

Chris Bence, communications director for Alabama Attorney Troy King, said, “it’s a federal issue and it falls 100 percent under federal jurisdiction.”

Bence said the state’s AGs office would get involved “only to the extent that it is [already] involved with other Indian gaming facilities in Alabama,” within the context of a working relationship with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office.

David Hammonds, of Ider, who owns 69 acres adjacent to an ancient Native American burial site in Fort Payne, said he plans to officially transfer the property to the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians next week.

He said the land rightfully belongs to the Keetoowah Tribe, which operates a casino in Oklahoma.

Hammonds is also partnered with the Keetoowah Tribe in United Keetoowah Band Transportation, based with his trucking company in Ider.

Hammonds said Keetoowah tribal leaders would visit the area next week and meet with local elected officials and residents.

So far, local elected leaders are withholding comment about the proposed casino, which, according to Hammonds, would open “as soon as possible.”

Fort Payne Mayor Bill Jordan said he would wait to make public comment until after meeting with tribal leaders next week.

DeKalb County Commission President Sid Holcomb, out of the office on Friday, could not be immediately reached for comment.

DeKalb County District Attorney Mike O’Dell declined to comment.

However, it appears that none of those officials – or elected state officials for that matter – will have jurisdiction.

That falls, according to Bence, entirely to the purview of the U.S. Department of Interior, and specifically to the department’s subset, the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Calls to the gaming commission were not returned Friday.

“They will have to go through all the federal, legal hoops required to start a casino,” Bence said. “All relevant rules, regulations and laws would have to be complied with, but the state has no jurisdiction. It’s a federal matter.”

Hammonds said the facility would offer what is known as “Class II” gaming, which – as defined by the Federal Indian Gambling Regulatory Act – generally includes games of chance such as bingo or a derivative thereof, such as pull-tabs, played in conjunction with classic ball-draw bingo and non-banking card games (where players play against each other rather than against the house).

The Keetoowah, now primarily based in Oklahoma, operate one casino there. The Keetoowah began offering paper bingo games in Oklahoma in 1986 and, in 2000, began Keetoowah Casino, which also offered “high stakes bingo machines.”
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 121
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2006 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like it's going through then, though I'm sure there will be some opposition to it at some time or another throughout the development.
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 10
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good news for the Tribe concerned though - any more news on this of late, any concrete plans or oppisition cropped up in the meantime?
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 121
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not as far as I'm aware, things are still going ahead.

There hasn't been any major news on this recently as far as I can tell, so the plans are probably still being finalised. Then again, maybe construction has started? Who knows, people don't like to hang around these days do they.
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Joined: 15 Jan 2010
Posts: 5
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Joined: 23 Feb 2011
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