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Alaska takes up casino bid

Apr 13, 2004 4:52 AM

Perry Green is a world-class poker player who for years has made the long trek from his home in Alaska to compete in the annual World Series of Poker at Binion’s Horseshoe in Downtown Las Vegas.

Through it all, he often wondered why he couldn’t enjoy playing his favorite game in his hometown.

Now, with the expansion of gaming throughout most of the U.S., Green’s dream has seen its time come to pass. A bill has been introduced in the Alaskan legislature to permit casino gambling. Actually, the bill establishes the Alaska Gaming Commission that would be authorized to grant one license for a gaming facility in Anchorage.

Green’s plan, if he is granted a license, is to purchase the defunct Alaska Seafood International plant from the state and convert that into a casino. He believes that kind of property would employ about 1,000 people and raise about $15 million a year for the state.

"I’ve been to Juneau about three times in the last year talking about it and trying to convince senators and the legislators about the wisdom of doing something with the building and creating much-needed employment in Alaska," Green was recently quoted as saying.

Green doesn’t believe the road to passage will be an easy one for his bill. Initially, the bill was sent to the House Finance Committee. Observers said that since it was sent to that committee only, it was an indication that it might get quick action in the House.

However, the problems will probably come in the Senate where the Republican leader, Gene Therriault, is opposed to gambling. He said there were prominent members of the House that agreed with him so that he wasn’t sure it would get through the Senate.

Still unidentified is the gaming company that Green said he would partner with if he received the license. He said he wanted an experienced operator to join him in the project. Also, he said, he would open a dealers’ school on site to prepare workers for the new casino and would include a childcare center to assist the workers.