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District Court Upholds Gaming Rights of Alabama Indians

District Court Upholds Gaming Rights of Alabama Indians

A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the State of Alabama which challenges the rights of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to operate casinos in the state.

District Court Judge Keith Watkins has ruled that the state has no authority to regulate gaming on Indian lands. The ruling would seem to allow the Poarch Creeks to operate full-fledged casinos in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka.

In his ruling Watkins wrote, “The bottom line is that even if Defendants are operating illegal class III gaming at the Poarch Band casinos, (state law) does not provide the State authority to prohibit such gaming.”

Watkins said that Poarch Creeks have every right to operate their casinos under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and enforced by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

The Alabama Attorney General, Luther Strange, wrote in a statement, “This decision puts us one step closer to a final resolution of this issue, which has been our goal all along. We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and intend to appeal.”

A spokesman for Poarch Creeks said, “We are pleased with Judge Watkins’ well-reasoned decision. This decision not only recognizes the sovereignty of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, but it also confirms that the tribe’s lands are held by the United States of America in trust for the tribe.”

OCA News Editor