Lawsuit filed against Alabama Sen. Del Marsh over gambling bill

Lawsuit claims lawmaker took bribe as part of gambling legislation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A lawsuit was filed Monday against Alabama Sen. Del Marsh, accusing him of soliciting bribes and receiving money from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians related to gambling.

The plaintiffs, Age With Dignity, Inc., OIC Dream Greene County and Dream County, INC, accuse Marsh of participating in a “pay to play” scheme.

Marsh denied the claims in the suit in a phone interview Monday.

“That’s a flat lie. I mean, I’ve never, ever insinuated to anyone that I will cast a vote for money. That’s a flat out lie,” Marsh said.

A representative for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians called the allegations in the lawsuit nonsense.

“It’s definitely not true. It’s unfortunate that people would want to attack the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and Senator Marsh with unfounded and nonsense accusations,” said Robert McGhee, director of governmental affairs and public relations.

The lawsuit also claims that Senate Bill 214, a gambling proposal Marsh is sponsoring, creates an illegal monopoly. The legislation as it stands would allow five locations to have casino-style games. Four of those locations are current operations. The legislation would also create a lottery.

“I’ve been hired by three charities in Greene County, who received their funds on legally operating gaming facilities under the law,” said attorney Thomas Gallion who represents the plaintiffs. “They have to, you know, go through the charities, and they are being blocked by Senate Bill 214, which gives a monopoly to a selected few, in particularly the Poarch Creek Indians.”

Gallion said they want Senate Bill 214 “declared a restraint of trade” and that it essentially creates an illegal monopoly.

The Alabama Senate is expected to take up the bill Tuesday.

“I mean, we’re moving on with the gaming legislation,” Marsh said. “I mean, and there again, we’ve been working with senators and House members to try to come up with something that people are comfortable with, and the governor’s staff. I’ve worked with all of them. 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.”

Marsh says he has the votes to pass the legislation out of the Senate. If it passes there, it will head to the House for more consideration.

Discussions on the gambling bill are ongoing. Marsh said he is open to adding two more casinos and allowing a new gaming commission to decide where they are located.

Opponents say local economies in some communities would miss out on thousands of dollars under the current proposal.

If lawmakers in both chambers approve it, it will head to the ballot where Alabamians will have a chance to vote on it.

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