Are Bingo Machines On Mowa Reservation Legal?

Are Bingo Machines On Mowa Reservation Legal?

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The Mowa, or Mobile-Washington Choctaw Indians are not federally recognized, but that has not stopped them from bringing in about 30 bingo machines to their entertainment center as a revenue source, which Attorney General Luther Strange calls illegal. They say they’re protected.

“We are party to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek of 1830. That treaty provided the Choctaw stay here and they wouldn’t lose their citizenship in Choctaw as a Choctaw,” says Tribal Chief Framon Weaver.

They tried other ways to make money…

“We’ve tried raising catfish, we tried a fruit orchard, we had a nursery at one time,” adds Weaver.

Not one was enough to put the 4,000 acre reservation comfortably in the black. But is it legal? Public perception of the machines, meanwhile, is spotty. Tim and Glenda Witherspoon own the local barbeque restaurant that blossomed with the opening of ThyssenKrupp. But now…

“It went from booming to dropping off. It went from 90% to 45%, you know?” says Glenda.

A few years ago, business was booming enough for them to expand into the next building with a dance floor and pool tables. Proud of their accomplishment, they would like to see the reservation do well.

“I think it’s a good thing, I mean if it’s legal, I think it will do well here and I think it will bring business here,” adds Glenda.

And for many here in Mount Vernon it’s a tough call, there’s the morality issue of living in the Bible belt, versus the economic issue of living in a small town.

“You’ve got the good side and you’ve got the bad side. The bad side is an influx of conmen and pawn shops everywhere. On the good side of that, I suppose it’s just the income,” says local Charles Reed.

We reached out to the attorney general’s office for a comment on this issue. We have not received one yet, but once we do, we will post it here.



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