A lawsuit attacking Alabama gambling expansion legislation contains explosive allegations that are untrue, according to the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Del Marsh (R-12th).
The complaint accuses Marsh of taking kickbacks from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in return for pursuing legislation that would enhance the tribe’s gaming operations.
It was filed Monday in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, the day before the bill was scheduled to hit the Senate floor for debate. The suit also accuses the bill of handing the tribe an illegal gaming monopoly in Alabama.
In a phone call with WSFA 12 News Monday, Del Marsh said the allegations of a “pay to play” scheme involving the Poarch Creeks was a “flat-out lie.”
“I’ve never, ever insinuated to anyone that I will cast a vote for money,” he added.
The sole purpose of this frivolous lawsuit is to block the people of Alabama from having a chance to vote on a lottery and gaming,” Marsh later said in an official statement.
Robert McGhee, director of governmental affairs and public relations for the tribe, described the allegation as “unfounded,” adding it was unfortunate that “people would want to attack” Marsh and the tribe with “nonsense accusations.”
The Poarch Band is Alabama’s only recognized tribe. It currently operates three on-reservation casinos that offer slots-like electronic bingo games. Del Marsh’s bill would allow these to be transformed into full-scale Class III casinos with slot machines and table games.
But the bill would not offer the tribe a monopoly. It would also allow commercial casino gaming at five locations: the Birmingham Race Course, Victoryland in Macon County, Greenetrack in Greene County, the Mobile Greyhound Racing facility, plus an additional off-reservation Poarch Creek Casino in Jackson or Dekalb County.
The bill would also legalize sports betting at these locations and establish a state-run lottery, with new revenues going to fund scholarships and education.
The lawsuit appears to have been filed by a group of charities based in Greene County that are reliant on charitable bingo for fundraising. These revenues could be threatened by the new games that would become available at Greenetrack if the bill were to pass.
Marsh says he believes he has the support in the Senate to pass the bill Tuesday. From there, it will head to the House for further consideration.
“The time is due that we address this issue once for all to try to control gaming in the state and for the state to reap the benefits of it when it’s already going on,” he said.