Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries

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The State of New Mexico sued the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) to challenge its authority to promulgate the regulations found at 25 C.F.R. 291 et seq. (“Part 291”). The challenged regulations concerned the process under which Indian tribes and states negotiate compacts to allow gaming on Indian lands. Congress established in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”). The Supreme Court would later decide, however, Congress lacked the authority to make states subject to suit by Indian tribes in federal court. However, the Court left intact the bulk of IGRA, and Congress has not amended it in the intervening years. As relevant here, the Part 291 process was implicated after the Pueblo of Pojoaque tribe sued New Mexico under IGRA and the State asserted sovereign immunity. Following the dismissal of the case on sovereign-immunity grounds, the Pojoaque asked the Secretary to prescribe gaming procedures pursuant to Part 291. Before the Secretary did so, New Mexico filed the underlying suit, seeking a declaration that the Part 291 regulations were not a valid exercise of the Secretary’s authority. The Pojoaque intervened. The district court granted New Mexico’s motion for summary judgment and denied that of DOI, holding that the Part 291 regulations were invalid and barred the Secretary from taking any further action on the Pojoaque’s request for the issuance of gaming procedures under them. DOI and the Pojoaque appealed that order, challenging the State’s standing, the ripeness of the dispute, and the district court’s holding that Part 291 was an invalid exercise of the Secretary’s authority. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. View "New Mexico v. Dept. of the Interior" on Justia Law

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The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) (the Tribe) decided to pursue gaming pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) on its trust lands in Dukes County, Massachusetts (the Settlement Lands). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Town of Aquinnah, and the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association (collectively, Appellees) argued that any gaming on the Settlement Lands should be subject to state, rather than federal, laws and regulations. The district court granted summary judgment for Appellees, ruling that the Settlement Lands were not covered by IGRA and hence were subject to the Commonwealth’s gaming regulations. The court found that the Tribe had failed to exercise sufficient governmental power over those lands, as required for IGRA to apply, and even if the Tribe had exercised sufficient governmental power the Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head, Inc., Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1987 (the Federal Act), which provides that the Settlement Lands are subject to state laws and regulations, governed. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) IGRA applies to the Settlement Lands; and (2) the Federal Act has been impliedly repealed by IGRA in relevant part. View "Commonwealth v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head" on Justia Law

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In 2013, the citizens of Linn County approved a referendum to permit gambling games in the county. Thereafter, a county organization applied to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission for a license to operate a new gambling structure. The Commission denied the organization’s application. In 2015, Eugene Kopecky, a county resident, filed a petition for declaratory order with the Commission asking the Commission to answer questions regarding the criteria it may considering licensure decisions. The Iowa Gaming Association, an association comprised of eighteen existing gambling licensees, intervened because the answers to Kopecky’s questions would affect the existing licensees. The Commission then announced its decision. Relevant to this appeal, the Commission ruled that it may consider the economic effect of a new gaming operation on existing gaming facilities when deciding whether to issue a new gaming license. The district court affirmed the Commission’s declaratory order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the rule allowing the Commission to consider the economic effect of a new gaming operation on existing gaming facilities when deciding whether to issue a new gaming license is not “[b]eyond the authority delegated to the agency by any provision of law or in violation of any provision of law” under Iowa Code 17A.19(10)(b). View "Kopecky v. Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a class action against Machine Zone, alleging a claim under Maryland's gambling loss recovery statute, Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law 12-110. Plaintiff claimed that she and thousands of similarly situated individuals lost money participating in an unlawful "gaming device," a component of Game of War that allows players to "spin" a virtual wheel to win virtual prizes for use within that video game. Plaintiff also asserted claims on her behalf and or the alleged class under the California Penal Code, and the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17200, et seq., as well as a common law claim of unjust enrichment. The district court dismissed the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). Plaintiff appealed only from the district court's dismissal of her claim under the Loss Recovery Statute. The court held that the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff did not "lose money" within the meaning of the Loss Recovery Statute as a result of her participation in the Game of War casino. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Mason v. Machine Zone, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2014, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarded a gaming license to Wynn MA, LLC. An unsuccessful applicant for the license (the company), the city that would have hosted the unsuccessful applicant, a labor union, and individual citizens (collectively, Plaintiffs) filed two complaints alleging numerous defects in the Commission’s process for awarding the license. The Commission moved to dismiss both complaints. The superior court allowed the motions on all but one count of one of the complaints, permitting only the company’s claim for certiorari review to survive. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judge’s allowance of the Commission’s motion to dismiss, holding (1) the motion judge correctly dismissed the company’s claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 30A, 14; (2) the judge correctly found that certiorari review of the licensing decision was available; (3) the city and the union lacked standing to assert their certiorari and declaratory judgment claims; and (4) the individual plaintiffs plausibly stated a claim for relief under the open meeting law. Remanded. View "City of Revere v. Massachusetts Gaming Commission" on Justia Law

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Moody, engaged in harness racing, is the horse trainer of record for his family farm. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) suspended Moody’s father, John, in 2010. John publicly criticized and sued the MGCB. An anonymous email led to MGCB’s investigation into whether Moody was only a “paper trainer” for John. When Moody attempted to apply for 2013 licensing, he was disqualified. In January 2013, a consent order was prepared that would have allowed Moody to begin participating in racing in March 2013, but it required Moody to agree not to take legal action against MGCB. Moody did not sign the order; he remained disqualified for six months. In September 2013, Moody was told that he could apply for licensure without any conditions. The ALJ dismissed the case. In 2015, Moody filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging First Amendment retaliation in his disqualification due to his father’s lawsuit, and that he had been deprived of liberty and property interests in his right to engage in harness-racing. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal. MGCB was protected by Eleventh Amendment immunity; neither MGCB nor the individual defendants in their official capacities were “persons” subject to suit under Section 1983. Moody lacked third-party standing for a First Amendment claim because failed to show a hindrance to his father’s ability to protect his own rights. Moody did not have a liberty interest in his license and was not deprived of procedural due process. View "Moody v. Michigan Gaming Control Board" on Justia Law

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Macon County Greyhound Park, Inc., d/b/a Victoryland ("MCGP"), appealed trial court orders denying its motions to compel arbitration in the actions filed against it by plaintiffs Marie Hoffman, Sandra R. Howard, and Dianne Slayton. In 2008, Hoffman hit a $110,000 jackpot on an electronic bingo machine at Victoryland. A technician cleared the machine and told her the jackpot had been caused by a malfunction in the machine. She kept playing, hit another $110,000 jackpot, only to be told again that the jackpot was due to machine error. Hoffman sued. Howard did not win any jackpots when she visited “Quincy’s 777.” She noted that MCGP employees escorted the Birmingham mayor to specific electronic-bingo machines, and that he hit several jackpots while patronizing “Quincy’s 777.” In Slayton’s suit, she alleged she won a $50,000 jackpot playing an electronic bingo machine, but shortly after MCGP employees inspected her identity documents (her Social Security Card and other identification), the machine was found to have malfunctioned. In each of these three cases, MCGP filed motions to compel binding arbitration and to dismiss the proceedings, arguing that each case involved a contract involving interstate commerce that included a written arbitration agreement. Because the "contracts" containing the arbitration provisions in these cases were based on gambling consideration, they were based solely on criminal conduct, and were therefore void. Consequently, the provisions of those "contracts," including the arbitration provisions, were void and unenforceable. Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court properly denied the motions to compel arbitration and to dismiss these cases. View "Macon County Greyhound Park, Inc. v. Hoffman" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a Circuit Court's judgment denying its petition for forfeiture of certain electronic-gambling devices and records of Greenetrack, Inc., naming as respondents 825 Electronic Gambling Devices, Greenetrack, Inc., Bally Gaming, Inc., Cadillac Jack, Inc., and International Game Technology, Inc. ("IGT"). “In Alabama v. $223,405.86,” the Supreme Court emphasized, and reaffirmed by virtue of this opinion: “There is no longer any room for uncertainty, nor justification for continuing dispute, as to the meaning of [the term 'bingo']. And certainly the need for any further expenditure of judicial resources, including the resources of this Court, to examine this issue is at an end. All that is left is for the law of this State to be enforced." The circuit court's judgment was reversed, and a judgment rendered in favor of the State so that the seized equipment and records were forfeited to the State. View "Alabama v. 825 Electronic Gambling Devices et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the Governor’s authority to concur in the decision of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (18 U.S.C. 1166-1167; 25 U.S.C. 2701, to take 305 acres in Madera County into trust for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians for the purpose of operating a class III gaming casino. The Governor’s concurrence was necessary under federal law for the granting of permission to operate the casino. While the case was pending, the legislature ratified a compact previously negotiated and executed with North Fork by the Governor concerning the terms and conditions for gambling. Plaintiffs then initiated Proposition 48, a referendum by which, at the 2014 general election, the voters disapproved the ratification statute. North Fork alleged that the ratification statute was not subject to referendum. The complaint and cross-complaint were dismissed, so that the land remained in trust for North Fork, but the compact was not ratified, so gaming on the land was not approved. Subsequently, after federal litigation between North Fork and the state, a set of procedures designed to function as an alternative to a state-approved compact was approved by the Secretary of the Interior. The court of appeal concluded that the Governor’s concurrence is invalid in this situation. View "Stand up for California v. State of California" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Washington corporation and casino operator, brought an action in Oregon against the city of Portland under the Oregon Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act, seeking a declaration that certain practices the city had approved through its “social gaming” permitting system were contrary to Oregon law. Plaintiff asserted that it was adversely affected by the city’s issuance of permits to engage in those gaming practices to establishments in Portland, in that persons who previously had patronized its casino in Washington were choosing to gamble in city-permitted card rooms in Portland instead. The city moved for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff lacked standing, and the trial court granted the motion, reasoning that, insofar as plaintiff’s Washington casino was not subject to the “legal system” that was the object of the declaratory judgment action, plaintiff had no “rights, status [or] other legal relations” that could be adversely affected. The Court of Appeals agreed, holding that, to establish standing under the declaratory judgment act, a plaintiff must be subject to the laws it asks the court to construe or must, at least, do business or own property in Oregon. But on appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, the city argued that the Oregon Court should have limited standing in a declaratory judgment action to those persons who could demonstrate that their interests were within the “zone of interests” that the relevant statute sought to protect. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals' reasoning and affirmed its judgment. View "MT&M Gaming, Inc. v. City of Portland" on Justia Law