- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Poarch Band of Creek Indians this week launched a new television ad urging the state to enter into a gambling compact with the tribe.

The commercial debuted this week after legislators began a special session on a projected budget shortfall.

The ad features a cross section of people, some in suits and others in baseball caps, discussing the state budget crisis and urging viewers to call the governor or legislators and press for an agreement with the tribe.

“Gaming’s here, and Poarch does it right and the tribe wants to partner with Alabama. A compact has been discussed for years. It would generate state revenue and benefit you and me, you and me. Poarch can help fix this deficit mess,” the ad says.

The Poarch Band operates casinos in Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery with electronic bingo machines that resemble slot machines. The casinos include a 236-room hotel at Wind Creek Atmore and a 283-room hotel at Wind Creek Wetumpka.

The tribe has previously said it would like exclusive rights to run gambling in Alabama and or possibly another location in the state.

“Our state is in an economic crisis. Our Tribe is willing and able to help solve the immediate deficit and help protect jobs and essential services that Alabama families depend on. We are hopeful that the Governor will partner with us for the common good of all Alabamians,” Poarch Band Tribal Chair Stephanie A. Bryan said in a prepared statement.

The ad comes as some lawmakers have proposed legalized gambling as a revenue option for the state, and a turf war is developing over who should run the gambling operations.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, has filed a proposed constitutional amendment to create a state lottery and multiple non-Indian casinos. Marsh has said he opposes giving a gambling monopoly to one entity.

Former Auburn University football coach Pat Dye and former Alabama Power Co. President Charles McCrary are helping lead a foundation to push for legalize a state lottery and allow casinos at the state’s four dog tracks.

Lawmakers began a special session Monday on the general fund budget which faces a projected $200 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Gov. Robert Bentley is trying to limit discussions on gambling in the special session, saying that gambling proposals will not solve the state’s immediate budget problem.

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