Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries

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George Glassmeyer sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the South Carolina Lottery Commission for information relating to million-dollar lottery winners. The Lottery Commission claimed the information sought was "personal" and "disclosure . . . would constitute unreasonable invasion of personal privacy." Instead, the Lottery Commission disclosed the hometown and state of each winner, the amount of each prize, the date of each prize, and the game associated with each prize. Glassmeyer responded that the Lottery Commission's disclosure did not satisfy his requests. The Lottery Commission then filed this lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that the release of lottery winners' names, addresses, telephone numbers, and forms of identification would constitute an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy under subsection 30-4-40(a)(2) and could be withheld. The Lottery Commission also sought injunctive relief preventing Glassmeyer from obtaining the information. The circuit court granted the Lottery Commission's motion and declared the release of the lottery winners' personal identifying information as an unreasonably invasion of personal privacy, and also entered an injunction permanently restraining Glassmeyer from seeking the lottery winners' full names, addresses, telephone numbers, and forms of identification. The court of appeals reversed, by the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed: "a proper injunction could restrict Glassmeyer only from seeking this information from the Lottery Commission. The Lottery Commission had no right to request an injunction permanently restraining Glassmeyer from seeking this information from any source, and the circuit court had no authority to prevent Glassmeyer from doing so." View "South Carolina Lottery Commission v. Glassmeyer" on Justia Law

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Wilton Rancheria, a Sacramento area Indian tribe, was federally recognized in 1927. The 1958 Rancheria Act disestablished Wilton and 40 other reservations. In 1979, several California rancherias, including Wilton, sued. The government agreed to restore Indian status. Wilton was erroneously excluded from the settlement. In 2009, the Department of the Interior restored Wilton’s federal recognition and agreed to “accept in trust certain lands formerly belonging to” Wilton. Wilton petitioned to acquire 282 acres near Galt for a casino. A draft environmental impact statement (EIS), under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321–4347, identified alternatives, including a 30-acre Elk Grove parcel. Wilton changed its preference and requested that the Department acquire the Elk Grove location. Objectors responded that acquiring the Elk Grove location would moot pending state-court suits.The Department’s final EIS identified the Elk Grove location as the preferred alternative. The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary– Indian Affairs, Roberts, signed the Record of Decision (ROD) pursuant to delegated authority. Roberts had served as Acting Assistant Secretary– Indian Affairs (AS–IA), but after his acting status lapsed under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Roberts continued to exercise the non-exclusive AS–IA functions. Black, who became Acting AS–IA in the new administration, signed off on the acquisition.Objectors filed suit before the issuance of the Department’s ROD and unsuccessfully sought a temporary restraining order. The D.C. Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the Department, rejecting claims that the Department impermissibly delegated the authority to make a final agency action to acquire the land to an official who could not wield this authority, was barred from acquiring land in trust on behalf of Wilton’s members, and failed to comply with NEPA. View "Stand Up For California! v. United States Department of the Interior" on Justia Law

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After taxpayers filed suit challenging the IRS's deficiency findings and penalties, the tax court sustained the deficiency determinations but rejected the accuracy-related penalties. In this case, the Miccosukee Tribe shared profits from its casino with Tribe members and encouraged its members to hide their payments from the IRS. The taxpayers here followed the Tribe's advice, and they are now subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax deficiencies.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the tax court's judgment and rejected taxpayers' assertion that any taxes are barred by the Miccosukee Settlement Act that exempted an earlier land transfer from taxation. Even if the court interpreted the Act as providing an indefinite tax exemption for the "lands" conveyed under it or the agreement, the casino revenues still do not fit the bill because the casino's land was not conveyed under either the Act or the agreement. Furthermore, an exemption for "lands" only exempts income "derived directly" from those lands, and this court has already held that casino revenues do "not derive directly from the land." The court also rejected taxpayers' assertion that the payments are merely nontaxable lease payments from the casino, citing factual and legal problems. Rather, the court concluded that the payments are taxable income. View "Clay v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss this action brought under the civil portion of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c), holding that Plaintiff had not and could not meet the causation of injury requirements set forth at 18 U.S.C. 1964(c).In 2014, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission granted a gaming license to Wynn, MA, LLC, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts, Ltd. (collectively, Wynn), allowing Wynn to construct a casino in Everett, Massachusetts. Mohegan Sun Massachusetts had also applied for a license and had proposed a casino facility on a site in East Boston owned by Plaintiff, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendants, including Wynn, conspired to deprive Mohegan of a gaming license, therefore costing Sterling the opportunity to least its site to Mohegan. The district court dismissed the action. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff could not show a "direct injury" from Wynn's actions, and so its RICO claims failed as a matter of law. View "Sterling Suffolk Racecourse v. Wynn Resorts, Ltd." on Justia Law

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In this litigation surrounding the development of a gaming facility on the trust lands of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, the Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head, Inc., and the Aquinnah Wampanoag Gaming Corporation (collectively, the Tribe) the First Circuit affirmed the amended final judgment of the district court as to a permitting issue, holding that the district court did not err.The Tribe planned to build a gaming facility on its trust lands in Dukes County, Massachusetts, but the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Town of Aquinnah, and the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association sought to put a halt to the development until the Tribe complied with municipal and Commonwealth regulations that they claimed were applicable. At issue was whether a party who did not raise a particular issue, the permitting issue, in the first appeal to the First Circuit, though it could have, could do so on a successive appeal. The district court held that the Tribe had forfeited or waived the issue by not appealing the permitting issue. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that this case did not qualify as one involving an exceptional circumstance, and therefore, the permitting issue could not be raised on appeal. View "Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court refusing to allow Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC to intervene in litigation brought by Gulfside Casino Partnership against the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and the Arkansas Racing Commission, holding that Cherokee was entitled to intervention as a matter of right.Five applicants, including Gulfside and Cherokee, applied for a casino license during the May 2019 application period. The Commission denied each application on the grounds that each failed to include a letter of support from the county judge or a resolution from the county quorum court. Gulfside filed the underlying suit asking the circuit court to reverse the Commission's denial of its application. The application period was reopened in August 2019, at which time Cherokee submitted its application. Cherokee then moved for intervention to defend its right to have its application considered. The circuit court denied intervention. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Cherokee was entitled to intervention as of right under Ark. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2). View "Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC v. Gulfside Casino Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court previously declared that certain tribal gaming compacts the Oklahoma Executive branch entered into with the Comanche and Otoe-Missouria Tribes were invalid under Oklahoma law because the gaming compacts authorized certain forms of Class III gaming prohibited by state law. While "Treat I" was pending before the Supreme Court, the Executive branch entered into two additional compacts with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Kialegee Tribal Town. The parties to the compacts submitted the tribal gaming compacts to the United States Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Interior deemed them approved by inaction, only to the extent they are consistent with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The Oklahoma Supreme Court determined these new compacts were also not valid: for the new compacts to be valid under Oklahoma law, the Executive branch must have negotiated the new compacts within the statutory bounds of the Model Tribal Gaming Compact (Model Compact) or obtained the approval of the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations. Without proper approval by the Joint Committee, the new tribal gaming compacts were invalid under Oklahoma law. View "Treat v. Stitt" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that the Wire Act's prohibitions are limited to interstate wire communications related to bets or wagers on sporting events or contests, thus affirming the district court's grant of Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment.In 2011, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a legal opinion concluding that the Wire Act's prohibitions were uniformly limited to sports gambling. In 2018, the OLC issued an opinion, which was later adopted by the DOJ, that all prohibitions in the Wire Act, with one exception, applied to all forms of bets or waters. In 2019, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and one of its vendors commenced this action seeking relief under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The district court granted relief, ruling that the Wire Act was limited to sports gambling. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) this controversy is justiciable; and (2) the Wire Act applies only to interstate wire communications related to sporting events or contests. View "New Hampshire Lottery Commission v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the court of appeals that the term "person" in Kentucky's Loss Recovery Act, Ky. Rev. Stat. Chapter 372, is limited to a natural person, holding that the Commonwealth had standing to bring this suit.The Commonwealth, through the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, filed the underlying complaint seeking to recover under statutory treble damages for money lost by its citizens playing real-money poker on an illegal internet website called PokerStars, which was owned by Defendants (collectively, PokerStars). The court entered partial summary judgment against Defendants based on the actual amount Kentucky players lost on PokerStars' websites. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the Commonwealth lacked standing because it did not qualify as "any other person" under the Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Commonwealth qualified as a "person" under the Act; (2) the Commonwealth had standing to bring this lawsuit; and (3) the manner in which the trial court calculated damages in this case was proper. View "Commonwealth ex rel. Brown v. Stars Interactive Holdings Ltd." on Justia Law

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In appeals consolidated for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review, the circuit court affirmed the decision of the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) to deny the gaming site application of RW Development, LLC (RW). The MGC and the circuit court found that RW’s proposed gaming site failed to meet the governing statutory and regulatory requirements under Mississippi Code Section 97-33-1 (Rev. 2014) in the first instance, and 13 Mississippi Administrative Code Part 2, Rule 1.4(d) (adopted May 1, 2013), Westlaw, in the second. The Supreme Court concurred with the Commission and circuit court that: (1) in case No. 2019-SA-01813-SCT, RW failed to provide evidence that its proposed gaming site was within eight hundred feet of the MHWL; and (2) in case No. 2019-SA-01815-SCT, RW failed to establish that the mean high water line point of reference was located on RW’s premises, that RW owned or leased the land contiguous to the point of reference and its proposed gaming site, and that the land would play an integral part in RW's project. View "RW Development, LLC v. Mississippi Gaming Commission" on Justia Law