Alabama AG sues Interior over Indian gaming


By Phillip Rawls -- Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama Attorney General Troy King is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior to keep it from allowing the Poarch Creek Band of Indians to expand its gaming in Alabama.

The federal court suit, filed in Mobile April 7, seeks to block the department from negotiating with the Indians to have new types of gaming.

The tribe currently operates electronic bingo games in Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery, but does not have slot machines and table games commonly found in casinos.

King said Interior revealed March 4 that it intends to resume informal talks with the Indians despite opposition from Alabama state officials.

''The Department of Interior's recent actions represent a complete disregard for fundamental principles of states rights and an arrogant lack of respect for the people of Alabama,'' King said April 8.

Interior spokesman Tina Kreisher said officials in Washington had not yet seen the suit, but the department does not comment on pending litigation.

Tribe attorney Robert McGhee said the tribe was disappointed the attorney general chose to go to court instead of sitting down with the tribe to discuss gaming.

The tribe is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but would be affected by the outcome.

Federal law allows federally recognized Indian tribes to conduct any type of gaming that is legal in a state, which in Alabama includes paper and electronic bingo.

State governors and Indian tribes can reach a compact allowing Indians to conduct other types of gaming. The tribe first sought to negotiate with Gov. Guy Hunt in 1991, but those talks broke down. No governor since has agreed to a compact to expand the tribe's gaming to casino-style games.

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