This empty lot right off the main stretch in Wetumpka will give way to bright lights and rows of slot machines. Construction will soon begin on a 140,000 square foot Harrah's Casino. Eddie Tullis with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians says there is "Going to be a 400 room hotel, 350 rooms and 15 to 20 suites."
The plans also include a restaurant and crews have already built a 2,000 car parking garage. "It's to employee 728 people full time," says Wetumpka Mayor Jo Glenn.
The Poarch Creek Indians already run a small gaming center in Wetumpka. While some residents aren't thrilled with the thought of having a casino in their town, the ones we talked to are ready to press their luck. "I think it's fine. It gives the old folks somewhere to go.," said one resident.
Another resident said, "I think it's a pretty good idea economically for our little town. I'm looking forward to the restaurants and shows."
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians have complete control over the federally recognized Indian reservation. The city or state won't see any tax dollars from the business. Mayor Glenn says "I would prefer a shopping center that would pay tax dollars."
The mayor says, while they won't profit from taxes, she's betting the town will benefit in other ways. "Since this is the opportunity, we are certainly going to maximize the opportunity for spin off businesses," says Glenn.
Mayor Glenn believes more hotels and restaurants will set up shop in Wetumpka because of the casino. The city is also building a river walk that will connect the casino and the downtown area. The mayor believes the downtown business district will flourish once the casino opens. Construction is expected to begin on the new casino this summer.