Ala. AG files gaming suit against tribe

By Bryan Cohen | Feb 19, 2013

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to stop the allegedly unlawful operation of slot machines.

The lawsuit named PCI Gaming Authority and the individual members of the Poarch Band's Tribal Council and Gaming Authority in their official capacity as defendants. While state police officers cannot enforce state law on Indian lands, the lawsuit contends that the Poarch Band must still comply with state laws that prohibit slot-machine gambling. The lawsuit alleges that the Poarch Band is unlawfully operating, advancing and profiting from unlawful gambling activity in three Alabama casinos.

Strange filed the lawsuit after other efforts to stop the Poarch Tribe's gambling activity failed.

"Unlawful gambling is a statewide problem, and I have worked with local authorities to enforce Alabama law consistently and fairly throughout the state," Strange said. "I have sent two letters to the National Indian Gaming Commission, asking them to stop the Poarch Band's unlawful gambling, but the commission has refused to do anything about it. The commission's inaction has left me with no choice but to file this lawsuit."

Strange sent letters to the National Indian Gaming Commission on Feb. 11, 2011, and again on April 25, 2012, asking the commission to take action against the tribe.

"I have lobbied Congress to stop the expansion of Indian gambling to new areas, and I have filed a brief in the Alabama Supreme Court to oppose the Poarch Band's efforts to use its land for gambling," Strange said. "As I have said many times, my office will use every tool at its disposal to stop illegal gambling in Alabama, wherever it is located. This lawsuit against the Poarch Band is one of those tools."

In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Carcieri v. Salazar that the U.S. Secretary of the Interior has a limited ability to set aside land for Indian tribes to use for gambling. Last year, Strange opposed a piece of proposed legislation along with 12 other state attorneys general that would have overruled the 2009 decision.

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