Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries

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The case involves Beteiro, LLC, which owns several patents related to facilitating gaming or gambling activities at a remote location. The patents disclose an invention that allows a user to participate in live gaming or gambling activity via a user communication device, even if the user is not in the same location as the gaming venue. Beteiro filed multiple patent infringement cases against various companies, alleging that they infringe certain claims of the patents by providing gambling and event wagering services.The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed Beteiro's cases for failure to state a claim based on the subject matter ineligibility of the patent claims. The court found that the claims were directed to an abstract idea and did not contain an inventive concept. Beteiro appealed the decision.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court agreed that Beteiro's claims were directed to the abstract idea of exchanging information concerning a bet and allowing or disallowing the bet based on where the user is located. The court also found that the claims did not provide an inventive concept because they achieved the abstract steps using several generic computers. The court concluded that Beteiro's claims amounted to nothing more than the practice of an abstract idea using conventional computer equipment, including GPS on a mobile phone, which are not eligible for patent under current Section 101 jurisprudence. View "BETEIRO, LLC v. DRAFTKINGS INC. " on Justia Law

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The case involves two casino operators, PNK (Baton Rouge) Partnership, PNK Development 8 LLC, PNK Development 9 LLC, and Centroplex Centre Convention Hotel, LLC, who incentivize their patrons with rewards, including complimentary hotel stays. The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge Department of Finance and Linda Hunt, its director, discovered through an audit that the operators had not remitted state and local taxes associated with these complimentary stays for several years. The City argued that the operators needed to pay these taxes, while the operators presented various arguments as to why they did not. The City filed a lawsuit in state court, which the operators removed to federal court on diversity jurisdiction grounds.The operators' removal of the case to federal court was challenged by the City, which argued that the tax abstention doctrine (TAD) warranted abstention in this case. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana agreed with the City, finding that all five TAD factors favored abstention: Louisiana's wide regulatory latitude over its taxation structure, the lack of heightened federal court scrutiny required by the operators' due process rights invocation, the potential for the operators to seek an improved competitive position in the federal court system, the greater familiarity of Louisiana courts with the state's tax regime and legislative intent, and the constraints on remedies available in federal court due to the Tax Injunction Act.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision. The Appeals Court found that the District Court had correctly applied the TAD and had not abused its discretion in deciding to abstain. The Appeals Court agreed that all five TAD factors favored abstention and that any doubt about the propriety of removal should be resolved in favor of remand. View "City of Baton Rouge v. PNK" on Justia Law

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The case involves two casino operators, PNK (Baton Rouge) Partnership, PNK Development 8 LLC, PNK Development 9 LLC, and Centroplex Centre Convention Hotel, LLC, who incentivize their patrons with rewards, including complimentary hotel stays. The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge Department of Finance and its director, Linda Hunt, discovered that the operators had not remitted state and local taxes associated with these complimentary stays for several years. The City argued that the operators needed to pay these taxes, while the operators put forth various arguments as to why they did not. The City filed a suit in state court, which the operators removed to federal court on diversity jurisdiction.The operators' cases were initially heard in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. The City filed a Motion to Remand, arguing that the tax abstention doctrine (TAD), as put forth in Levin v. Commerce Energy, Inc., warranted abstention. The District Court agreed with the City, stating that all five TAD factors favored abstention: Louisiana's wide regulatory latitude over its taxation structure, the lack of heightened federal court scrutiny required for the operators' due process rights under the Louisiana Constitution, the potential for the operators to seek an improved competitive position in the federal court system, the familiarity of Louisiana courts with the state's tax regime and legislative intent, and the constraints of the Tax Injunction Act on remedies available in federal court.The case was then reviewed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court affirmed the District Court's decision, agreeing that the TAD applied and that all five factors favored abstention. The court concluded that the District Court's decision to abstain was within its discretion. View "City of Baton Rouge v. Centroplex Centre Convention Hotel, LLC" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around Stephen Wynn, a casino owner and real estate developer, who was accused by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the People's Republic of China in 2017. The DOJ alleged that Wynn lobbied then-President Trump and his administration on behalf of China to cancel a certain Chinese businessperson's visa or to otherwise remove that person from the United States. Wynn's lobbying efforts ceased in October 2017, and he never registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).The DOJ sued Wynn in 2022, seeking to compel him to register as a foreign agent under FARA. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that since Wynn's alleged agency relationship with the Chinese government ended in October 2017, FARA no longer required him to register.The DOJ appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The appellate court affirmed the district court's decision, holding that under the precedent set by United States v. McGoff, Wynn's obligation to register under FARA expired when he ceased acting as a foreign agent. The court rejected the DOJ's argument that the civil enforcement provision of FARA allowed for an injunction to compel compliance for past violations, stating that the provision only applies to ongoing or imminent violations. Therefore, the court concluded that there was no legal basis for the government to compel Wynn to register now. View "Attorney General v. Wynn" on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute over the jurisdiction of personal injury claims arising from incidents at tribal gaming facilities. The plaintiffs, Jeremiah Sipp and Hella Rader, filed a complaint against Buffalo Thunder, Inc., Buffalo Thunder Development Authority, the Pueblo of Pojoaque, the Pueblo of Pojoaque Gaming Commission, and Pojoaque Gaming, Inc. (collectively referred to as Petitioners), alleging that Sipp was injured due to the negligence of the casino's employees. The complaint was initially dismissed by the district court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but this decision was reversed by the Court of Appeals.The district court had granted the Petitioners' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that the plaintiffs' claims did not fall within Section 8(A) of the Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact (the Compact), which provides for state court jurisdiction over certain claims unless it is finally determined by a state or federal court that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) does not permit the shifting of jurisdiction over visitors’ personal injury suits to state court. The Court of Appeals, however, held that the plaintiffs' claims did fall under Section 8(A) and that neither of the two federal cases cited by the Petitioners, Pueblo of Santa Ana v. Nash and Navajo Nation v. Dalley, had triggered the termination clause in Section 8(A) of the Compact.The Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, holding that the jurisdiction shifting under Section 8(A) of the Compact was terminated by Nash. The court reasoned that the plain language of the termination clause in Section 8(A) was clear and unambiguous, and that the federal district court's final determination in Nash that IGRA does not permit such a jurisdictional shifting constituted the qualifying event that terminates the Tribe’s duty to provide its “limited waiver of . . . immunity from suit.” Therefore, the court concluded that state courts do not possess subject matter jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs' underlying claim. View "Sipp v. Buffalo Thunder" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Salvatore Groppo pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the transmission of wagering information as a "sub-bookie" in an unlawful international sports gambling enterprise. He was sentenced to five years' probation, 200 hours of community service, a $3,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment. In 2022, Groppo moved to expunge his conviction, seeking relief from a potential tax liability of over $100,000 on his sports wagering activity. He argued that the tax liability was disproportionate to his relatively minor role in the criminal enterprise.The district court denied Groppo's motion to expunge his conviction. The court reasoned that expungement of a conviction is only available if the conviction itself was unlawful or otherwise invalid. The court also stated that the IRS's imposition of an excise tax does not provide grounds for relief as 'government misconduct' that would warrant expungement.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The appellate court held that because Groppo alleged neither an unlawful arrest or conviction nor a clerical error, the district court correctly determined that it did not have ancillary jurisdiction to grant the motion to expunge. The court explained that a district court is powerless to expunge a valid arrest and conviction solely for equitable considerations, including alleged misconduct by the IRS. View "USA V. GROPPO" on Justia Law

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The case involves a group of bettors who sued Churchill Downs, Inc., and trainers Robert Baffert and Bob Baffert Racing, Inc., after the horse they bet on, Medina Spirit, was disqualified from the 2021 Kentucky Derby due to a failed post-race drug test. The bettors claimed that they would have won their bets under the new order of finish after Medina Spirit's disqualification. However, under Kentucky law, only the first order of finish marked "official" counts for wagering purposes. The plaintiffs brought claims for negligence, breach of contract, violation of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act, and unjust enrichment.The case was initially heard in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, which granted the defendants' motions to dismiss and denied the plaintiffs leave to amend the complaint. The court found that the plaintiffs' claims were based on the theory that they had "unpaid winning wagers," but under Kentucky law, the first official order of finish is final. Therefore, the plaintiffs' wagers were lost, and the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.The case was then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The appellate court affirmed the lower court's decision, agreeing that the plaintiffs' claims were based on the theory that they had "unpaid winning wagers." However, under Kentucky law, the first official order of finish is final for wagering purposes. Therefore, the plaintiffs' wagers were lost, and the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court also found that the proposed amendment to the complaint did not cure this flaw, so the lower court properly denied leave to amend. View "Mattera v. Baffert" on Justia Law

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The case involves Sutter’s Place, Inc., a cardroom operator in San Jose, California, and the California Gambling Control Commission. Sutter’s Place sought to increase the number of gambling tables in its cardroom from 49 to 64. The request was based on a local ballot measure, Measure H, which was approved by San Jose voters. However, the Commission denied the application, arguing that Measure H did not comply with the requirements of the Gambling Control Act (GCA), specifically a provision governing the text of local ballot measures authorizing expansions of gambling. The Commission's decision was upheld by the San Francisco County Superior Court.Previously, the Commission had denied Sutter’s application for more tables, concluding that the San Jose ballot measure authorizing the increase did not comply with the GCA. The superior court denied writ relief, and Sutter appealed. The appellate court affirmed the lower court's decision, rejecting Sutter's arguments that recent state legislation validated San Jose’s ordinance and abrogated the Commission’s decision denying permission to expand.In the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Sutter argued that the Commission lacked authority to deny a gambling expansion application on the ground that a local authorizing measure fails to comply with state law. However, the court rejected each argument and concluded that the trial court did not err in denying Sutter’s writ petition. The court held that the Commission had the authority to refuse an application that conflicted with state law. The court also found that Measure H did not substantially comply with the GCA's requirements for ballot language. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court's decision. View "Sutter's Place, Inc. v. California Gambling Control Commission" on Justia Law

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The State of Alabama initiated 14 separate actions against various businesses, nonprofit organizations, property owners, and municipalities, alleging that they were responsible for the operation of illegal gambling activities. The State sought permanent injunctive relief on public-nuisance grounds. The Birmingham Division of the Jefferson Circuit Court issued temporary restraining orders (TROs) in each case and later transferred the actions to the Bessemer Division of the same court, extending the TROs in the process.Upon receiving the transferred cases, the Bessemer Division concluded that the Birmingham Division lacked jurisdiction to issue the TROs. As a result, the Bessemer Division dissolved the TROs and dismissed the actions. The State appealed these decisions, leading to the consolidation of the appeals.The Supreme Court of Alabama found that the Bessemer Division had erred in its conclusion. The court clarified that the Birmingham Division did have jurisdiction over the actions and had correctly transferred them to the Bessemer Division, which was the proper venue. The court explained that the Bessemer Division's dismissal of the actions was erroneous and that the correct course of action would have been to proceed with the cases.The Supreme Court of Alabama reversed the Bessemer Division's judgments and remanded the actions for further proceedings. The court instructed the Bessemer Division to conduct a hearing regarding the State's motions for preliminary injunctions at the earliest possible time. View "State of Alabama v. Jay's Charity Bingo" on Justia Law

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In this case, two companies and an individual, all involved in Florida's gaming industry, petitioned against the Governor of Florida and others, challenging a gaming compact between the State and the Seminole Tribe. The petitioners argued that a sports betting provision in the compact violated the Florida Constitution, which limits the expansion of casino gambling to the citizens' initiative process. They claimed that the Governor and Legislature exceeded their constitutional authority by allowing the compact to be enacted. The petitioners requested a declaration that the law implementing the compact was unconstitutional and sought an injunction to stop the Seminole Tribe from continuing to operate mobile sports betting.However, the Supreme Court of Florida rejected this petition on the grounds that a writ of quo warranto, which the petitioners used to challenge the compact, was not an appropriate means to question the substantive constitutionality of an enacted law. The court underscored that quo warranto is a common law remedy used to test the right of a person to hold an office or exercise some right derived from the state, not to challenge the constitutionality of a law. Therefore, the petitioners' claim was beyond the relief that quo warranto provides.The petitioners' reliance on previous cases, where the writ of quo warranto was used to question the Governor's authority to bind the state to a compact without ratification by the Legislature, was also rejected. The court pointed out that these cases were fundamentally different as they did not challenge the substance of the agreement enacted by the Governor and ratified by the Legislature.In conclusion, the Supreme Court of Florida denied the petition, stating that the relief sought by the petitioners was beyond what quo warranto provides and declined to extend the scope of the writ to test the substantive constitutionality of a statute. View "West Flagler Associates, Ltd. v. DeSantis" on Justia Law