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NIGC Confirms Federal Authority Over Poarch Creek Indian Gaming

POARCH CREEK INDIAN RESERVATION, Ala., March 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's top federal regulator for Indian gaming has once again confirmed that the Poarch Band of Creek Indian's gaming operations are operating legally within Alabama and are subject to federal, not state, laws.

In a letter dated March 14 th, the National Indian Gaming Commission's Acting General Counsel, Eric Shepard, issued a pointed rebuke to claims made by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange that his office has legal authority over the Tribe's gaming operations.

In his letter, NIGC's Shepard clearly states "federal, not state, law applies to gaming within the Poarch Band's Indian lands and the NIGC, not the State, has jurisdiction over that gaming."

Poarch Creek's Attorney General Venus McGhee Prince responded to Shepard's letter saying, "We have always been careful to follow the laws governing Indian gaming. No one is more concerned about conducting our business the right way than we are, and we are hopeful that this will end any further discussion on the issue."

In his letter, Shepard noted that this was the second time in two years that NIGC has written Alabama elected officials in an effort to clarify regulatory authority.  A similar letter was sent in March of 2011. "Though I believe that letter thoroughly articulated the NIGC's authority over Indian gaming on Indian lands, the recent action taken by your office against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, as well as subsequent statements in press releases and newspaper editorials, gives me cause to reiterate that federal, not state law applies…," Shepard wrote to Strange.

The National Indian Gaming Commission was established as part of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which Congress passed in 1988 and then- President Ronald Reagan signed into law.  The NIGC serves as a Federal regulatory authority for gaming on Indian lands.  

General Counsel Shepard included copies of specific IGRA statues in his letter to Strange and closed by stating unequivocally that "The Poarch Band is a federally recognized Indian tribe … the Poarch Band may operate bingo, as defined by IGRA, on its Indian lands…"

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