Alabama won't appeal decision in Poarch Creek gaming lawsuit

The Creek Casino Montgomery in Alabama. Photo from Facebook

The state of Alabama won't appeal a decision in a major gaming dispute with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

Attorney General Luther Strange made good on his promise to drop his lawsuit if he lost at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. While he disagreed with the outcome, he said the unanimous ruling confirmed the need for a Class III gaming compact.

"The appeals court’s decision makes it clear that the only way for the state of Alabama to regulate the gambling conducted on the PCI’s lands is to enter into a compact with the PCI," Strange said in a statement. "That is a decision for the Governor and Legislature, not me."

"After thoroughly reviewing the decision, I do not intend to petition for review in the United States Supreme Court," Strange added.

By foregoing an appeal, Strange accepted defeat on two major issues. He cannot challenge land-into-trust acquisitions made for the tribe by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the 1990s. Such a "collateral attack" was ruled as untimely by the 11th Circuit.

Strange also cannot sue individual tribal leaders for allegedly violating the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the court said.

A Class III gaming compact, though, could include provisions that address sovereign immunity and lack of compliance, the 11th Circuit noted.

The tribe has repeatedly asked the state to negotiate a compact. Every governor has refused to come to the table although Gov. Robert Bentley (R) has indicated he is open to a deal.

But Bentley has refused to accept gaming revenues from the tribe as a potential solution to the state's budget crisis. He rejected an offer of $250 million for a new casino, The Anniston Star reported.

“They said it couldn’t be ready by October,” Poarch Creek Vice Chairman Robert McGhee told the paper, referring to the start of the new fiscal year.

Get the Story:
Poarch Creek Indians Win Alabama Gambling Challenge ( 9/4)
Poarch Creeks: Governor’s staff rejected gambling proposal (The Anniston Star 9/4)
Federal court rejects Alabama suit against Poarch Band (The Montgomery Advertiser 9/4)
11th Circuit of Appeals rules in favor of PCI (The Wetumpka Herald 9/3)
Alabama can’t regulate Poarch Creek casinos, appeals court rules (AP 9/3)

11th Circuit Decision:
Alabama v. PCI Gaming Authority (September 3, 2015)

Related Stories
Poarch Creeks secure major ruling in gaming dispute in Alabama (9/3)
Poarch Creeks win injunction blocking county from imposing tax (07/27)
Poarch Creeks file lawsuit over taxes imposed on gaming facility (05/28)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks need state to protect gaming enterprise (05/22)
Poarch Creek casinos once seen as illegal now eyed for cash (05/07)
Editorial: Battle against Poarch Creek casinos is a waste of time (01/26)
Poarch Creeks remain confident after hearing in casino case (01/14)
11th Circuit hears lawsuit over Poarch Creek casino operation (01/13)
Alabama AG vows to drop Indian gaming case if he loses decision (09/10)
Alabama submits opening brief in Poarch Creek casino dispute (07/17)
Alabama vows speedy appeal in Poarch Creek gaming litigation (04/14)

Join the Conversation