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Creek Entertainment Gretna opens in Gadsden County

Creek Entertainment Gretna
The $20-million Creek Entertainment Gretna � which includes poker and barrel racing � opened last month. [Photo: Colin Hackley]

Poarch Band of Creek Indian business leaders and their Florida backers are betting that Creek Entertainment Gretna, which opened in Gadsden County in December with a poker room, barrel racing and plans for other equestrian events, will be a lucky play for them as well as the regional economy.

Marc Dunbar
Marc Dunbar
The $20-million development provided some 180 jobs, a boon for the rural community (population 1,482) with an unemployment rate of over 10%, says City Manager Antonio Jefferson. He's seeing an interest in businesses wanting to provide goods and services to the facility.

The Poarch Band, which owns 60% of the entertainment center, also owns Wind Creek Casino in Atmore, Ala., which started three years ago and now employs 1,000. The Alabama tribe's plan for Gretna adds horse racing but is similar, says Jay Dorris, president and CEO of PCI Gaming Authority, a Poarch affiliate. The goal: Within five years build a resort casino with hotels, an equestrian center, quarter-horse racing and 2,000 slot machines — a $200-million-plus development with 800 to 1,000 employees.

The Gretna location, off I-10 20 miles west of Tallahassee, is ideal, says Marc Dunbar, a Tallahassee gaming attorney with 10% ownership in the venture. "We've found that rural casinos, located close to the state border and on an interstate, are good locations, and the Red Hills region has always been a popular equestrian area.'' It's the only horse racing north of Ocala. Slot machines, if added, would be the first north of Tampa. "We'd be able to build a Wind Creek-type casino on that property.''

County voters still need to approve adding slots during a referendum this month that was hurriedly scheduled over concerns that the Legislature might move to take away the counties' slots option.