Alabama's largest casino drew huge crowds on Day 1 of its grand opening along the Coosa River in Wetumpka. Thousands of people stood in line to get inside the new Wind Creek Casino, which is operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
The line of customers wrapped around the complex.
The new $246 million facility replaces a smaller casino that was on site. The new gaming hall expansion is 10 times larger than the original. Nearby, the facility's new 20-story hotel features 282 rooms, each with a view of the river. It won't open until January.
The property boasts five restaurants including The Fire, a premium steakhouse, and over 85,000 square feet of gaming space. The gaming floor has around 2,500 gaming machines and will soon house a bar anchored by a 16,000 gallon shark tank.
The Wetumpka Police Department is urging all who do not have to use Hwy. 231 to avoid the area due to the heavy traffic being caused by the grand opening.
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Back in October the casino held a job fair at the Wetumpka Civic Center. They were able to offer jobs on the spot with an average pay of around $11 per hour. It was the largest expansion by a business in Wetumpka's history.
In total, the casino will employee more than 1,100 people in full and part-time positions.
Governor Robert Bentley was asked for his reaction to the new casino, and his response was made with mixed emotions. "Is it going to help bring jobs? Yeah, it is," the governor admitted. "Is it going to bring some money into the area? Yes, it is," he added. "Is it going to have a positive influence on the community? Probably not," he concluded.
While gambling is illegal in Alabama and several prominent facilities such as Macon County's Victoryland and Houston County's Country Crossings have been forced closed, there isn't much the State has been able to do to stop the Wind Creek casino. It, as well as a similar casino Atmore and a smaller casino in Montgomery County, are on sovereign land owned by the Creek Indians.
Victoryland, on the other hand, remains closed following a State raid earlier this year that ended with the seizure of hundreds of gaming machines the attorney general's office says are illegal slot machines. A trial is set for June 2014.
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