If you know anything about the culture of the American South, you more than likely know of the conservative attitude that dominates the region. Though the term “conservative” can mean a host of different things, it almost always means “anti-gambling.” In Alabama, this assessment is not too far off as the number of casinos pales in comparison to many other surrounding states. With that being said, there are casino options so long as you are in one of two select locales.
Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Atmore
Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Wetumpka
Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Montgomery
Alabama Native American/Tribal Casinos
Tribal casinos are nothing more than casino establishments that exist on sovereign land owned and controlled by Native American tribes. Due to the fact that tribes existed in virtually every part of what is now the United States, there are tribal casinos in more states than there are not. Thanks to the passing of a law in the late 1980s, a particular state, even if it wanted to, would not be able to stop Native Americans from pressing on with casino endeavors.
Though the way tribal casinos exist in Alabama is a bit different from what you will find in most other states, they are still unable to be touched by state governments. In Alabama, there have been multiple attempts by the state government to, in some way, alter casino operations, but each of these attempts has come and gone with no success.
A racino, as its name implies, is nothing more than a casino attached to a horse or dog track. In Alabama, the first and only racino opened its doors in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, the only things you can do at the state’s racino is participate in off-track betting and play electronic bingo. This has been the casino for more than 30 years and does not seem to be changing anytime soon considering the track is located on state-owned lands and not on tribal lands.
Gambling History of Alabama
The history surrounding not just casinos, but gambling in general, in Alabama is fairly straightforward. For the longest time, the state did not allow any form of gambling whatsoever. Electric bingo halls existed, but their legality tended to vary depending on where you were and even these laws changed frequently. To this day, the laws surrounding electronic bingo halls remains under dispute.
As for the history of casinos specifically, the passing of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988 paved the way for the future. Unable to hold out against tribes that wanted to exercise their right to self-governance, Alabama was forced to fold and allow for the existence of Native American casinos. Though there are a few of these establishments today, it must be noted that nowhere in the state, under any circumstances, is it legal to play tables games. For this reason, even the most extravagant casinos in the state do not exactly feel like the types of casinos you will find in most other parts of the country.
The aforementioned Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 made it possible for Native American tribes across the country to operate casinos as they see fit. In essence, it added extra emphasis to the fact that Native American lands are, indeed, sovereign and able to govern themselves. Even though this Act passed in the late 1980s, Alabama did not see any real casino presence until the mid-2000s. During this time, the Poarch Creek Indians announced plans to open their first casino resort. Despite attempts by Alabama’s Attorney General to halt the project, the Department of Interior reaffirmed that the state of Alabama has no right to govern over what happens on tribal lands.
Despite this, the tribal casinos in the state of Alabama do not play host to any sort of table game whatsoever. There is no real reason as to why this is so, other than the presumption that perhaps the tribes are doing their best not to completely contradict Alabama law.