Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries
Funvestment Group, LLC v. Crittenden
The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to decide whether revenue generated from the lease of a bona fide coin operated amusement machine (“COAM”) qualified as “gross revenues” exempt from taxation under OCGA § 48-8-3 (43). Funvestment Group, LLC, the lessee of the COAMs at issue and the owner of the location where the COAMs were available for play, argued that revenues generated from the lease of COAMs were considered “gross revenues” exempt from sales and use tax. The Court of Appeals concluded that the subject lease revenues were not “gross revenues” and that the exemption only applied to money inserted into COAMs for play. The Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals erred in reaching this conclusion, and thus reversed the Court of Appeals' judgment. View "Funvestment Group, LLC v. Crittenden" on Justia Law
Corrales v. Cal. Gambling Control Com.
The lawsuit giving rise to this appeal was brought by Plaintiff-appellant Manuel Corrales, on behalf of himself, against the California Gambling Control Commission (the Commission) and the two competing factions of the California Valley Miwok Tribe (the Tribe), including his former client, the "Burley faction." In the Court of Appeals' preceding opinion, CVMT 2020, the Court affirmed, on res judicata grounds, the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by attorney Corrales against the Commission on behalf of the Burley faction. Through this lawsuit, Corrales sought to ensure that he received payment from the Tribe for the attorney fees that he claims he was due under a fee agreement he entered into with the Burley faction in 2007. Specifically, even though the Tribe’s leadership dispute was still not resolved, Corrales sought either (1) an order requiring the Commission to make immediate payment to him from the Tribe’s RSTF money, or (2) an order that when the Commission eventually decides to release the Indian Gaming Revenue Sharing Trust Fund (RSTF) money to the Tribe, his attorney fees had to be paid directly to him by the Commission before the remainder of the funds were released to the Tribe. The trial court dismissed Corrales’s lawsuit because the question of whether Burley represented the Tribe in 2007 for the purpose of entering into a binding fee agreement with Corrales on behalf of the Tribe required the resolution of an internal tribal leadership and membership dispute, over which the courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction. After judgment was entered, Corrales brought a motion for a new trial and a motion for relief from default. Among other things, Corrales argued that the trial court should have stayed his lawsuit rather than dismissing it. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's dismissal, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Corrales v. Cal. Gambling Control Com." on Justia Law
West Flagler Associates, Ltd. v. Debra Haaland
The Seminole Tribe of Florida (“Tribe”) and the State of Florida entered into a compact under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”). That gaming compact (“Compact”) purported to permit the Tribe to offer online sports betting throughout the state. The Compact became effective when the Secretary of the Interior failed to either approve or disapprove it within 45 days of receiving it from the Tribe and Florida. The Plaintiffs, in this case, brick-and-mortar casinos in Florida, object to the Secretary’s decision to allow the Compact to go into effect because, in their view, it violated IGRA. They also believe that the Compact violates the Wire Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the Fifth Amendment and that the Secretary was required to disapprove the Compact for those reasons as well. The district court denied the Tribe’s motion and granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The DC Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to enter judgment for the Secretary. The court explained that IGRA does not prohibit a gaming compact—which is, at bottom, an agreement between a tribe and a state—from discussing other topics, including those governing activities “outside Indian lands.” Accordingly, the court explained that the district court erred by reading into the Compact a legal effect it does not (and cannot) have, namely, independently authorizing betting by patrons located outside of the Tribe’s lands. The court held only that the district erred by reading into the Compact a legal effect it does not (and cannot) have, namely, independently authorizing betting by patrons located outside of the Tribe’s lands. View "West Flagler Associates, Ltd. v. Debra Haaland" on Justia Law
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash etc. v. Lexington Ins. Co.
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation California (Chumash) appealed a judgment following the granting of a motion for summary judgment in favor of Lexington Insurance Company (Lexington) in Chumash’s lawsuit against Lexington for denial of insurance coverage. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court concluded that, among other things, Chumash did not present sufficient evidence to show that the COVID-19 virus caused physical property damage to its casino and resort so as to fall within the property damage coverage provisions of the Lexington insurance policy. The court explained that had the Chumash Casino and Resort sustained property damage, it was required to specify what property was damaged and to submit a claim for the dollar amount of that loss. The absence of such information supports Lexington’s decision to deny coverage. View "Santa Ynez Band of Chumash etc. v. Lexington Ins. Co." on Justia Law
CHICKEN RANCH RANCHERIA, ET AL V. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ET AL
The Tribes sued the State of California for its failure to comply with IGRA. In an earlier opinion (Chicken Ranch I), the panel ruled for the Tribes, first noting that California Government Code Section 98005 explicitly waived the state’s sovereign immunity from suit. The panel held that California violated IGRA by failing to negotiate in good faith a Class III gaming compact with the Tribes, and it ordered the district court to implement IGRA’s remedial framework. After prevailing, the Tribes sought attorneys’ fees spent litigating the Chicken Ranch I appeal. The Ninth Circuit denied the request for attorneys’ fees. The panel held that because the Tribes prevailed on a federal cause of action, they were entitled to attorneys’ fees only if federal law allowed them. Because it did not, the panel denied the Tribes’ fee request. The panel rejected the Tribes’ argument that there is an exception authorizing attorneys’ fees in federal question cases when the claims implicate “substantial and significant issues of state law.” The panel distinguished Independent Living Center of Southern California, Inc. v. Kent, 909 F.3d 272 (9th Cir. 2018), in which there was no federal cause of action but there was federal question jurisdiction over a state-law claim that fell within a small category cases where a federal issue is necessarily raised, actually disputed, substantial, and capable of resolution in federal court without disturbing the federal-state balance approved by Congress. View "CHICKEN RANCH RANCHERIA, ET AL V. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ET AL" on Justia Law
Gattineri v. Wynn MA, LLC
In this case concerning the regulation of gambling licenses in the Commonwealth the First Circuit reversed in part the summary judgment for Defendants and certified questions of law to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC).An option contract for the purchase of land gave Encore Boston Harbor the option to purchase land from FBT Realty, LLC for $75 million should the Massachusetts Gaming Commission grant Encore a gaming license. The Commission ultimately conditioned the grant of the license on a $35 million purchase price for the sale of the land and signed certification by each member of FBT, except for Plaintiff, that they were sole members of the company. Defendants presented Plaintiff with an offer that would "make him whole" if he signed the certification in a contract. Plaintiff executed the required certification and then brought this action alleging, among other claims, breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, finding no valid or enforceable contract. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed as to certain claims and that the question of whether the contract was unenforceable as contrary to state law and/or as a violation of public policy must be resolved by the SJC. View "Gattineri v. Wynn MA, LLC" on Justia Law
Gostev v. Skillz Platform, Inc.
Campbell County Bd. of Commissioners v. Wyo. Horse Racing, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court setting aside Resolution 2077, which was adopted by the Campbell County Board of Commissioners in 2021, holding that there was no error.Resolution 2077 "revoked and superseded" previous resolutions approving Petitioners - Wyoming Horse Racing, LLC and Wyoming Downs, LLC - to conduct simulcast operations under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 11-25-102(a)(vii)(B) and placed conditions on all future approvals. Petitioners filed a petition for judicial review, arguing that the resolution exceeded the statutory authority of Campbell County under the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 11-25-101 et seq. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the County had authority under the Pari-Mutuel Act to revoke its prior approvals of Petitioners' simulcast operations. View "Campbell County Bd. of Commissioners v. Wyo. Horse Racing, LLC" on Justia Law
Brighton Ventures 2 LLC v. Alabama
In consolidated appeals, Brighton Ventures 2 LLC and the St. John Life Center ("the Life Center") appealed a circuit court judgment order forfeiting $446,897.19 that was found to have been used as bets or stakes as part of an illegal gambling operation. The City of Brighton ("the City") had an ordinance permitting the establishment of charitable bingo operations within its city limits. In early 2019, an application for a charity-bingo business license was submitted to the City on behalf of Super Highway Bingo ("the casino"); the Life Center was listed as the named charity. In February 2019, the City issued the requested business license, and, in March 2019, the casino officially opened. According to the record, Brighton Ventures was responsible for the day- to-day operations of the casino and, in exchange for its management services, received 85% of the casino's profits. The Life Center, in return, received 15% of the casino's profits. Around the time the casino opened, the Alabama Attorney General's Office began an investigation into "electronic bingo" activity occurring there. "Electronic bingo is illegal in Alabama." An undercover investigator from the Attorney General's office was able to play electronic bingo games at the casino. The State executed multiple search warrants at the casino during which it seized, among other things, over 200 "electronic bingo" machines and large sums of cash. Relevant to these appeals, the State then initiated separate actions, petitioning the circuit court for an in rem civil forfeiture of the $446,897.19. Brighton Ventures and the Life Center denied that the funds seized were "used as bets or stakes in gambling activity" as described in § 13A-12-30(c) and argued that the State had unlawfully seized the funds. They also asserted counterclaims in which they alleged, among other things, that forfeiture of the funds constitutes an "excessive fine" in violation of the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Alabama Supreme Court found no error in the circuit court's judgment and affirmed the order ordering the forfeiture. View "Brighton Ventures 2 LLC v. Alabama" on Justia Law
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Michael Houdyshell
The Eighth Circuit reviewed a case for the second time regarding “whether a South Dakota tax on nonmember activity on the Flandreau Indian Reservation (the Reservation) in Moody County, South Dakota is preempted by federal law. On remand, and after a six-day video bench trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of the Tribe, concluding again that federal law preempts the imposition of the tax. The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court explained that in light of guideposts from the Supreme Court, even with the evidence that the district court heard at trial, the court cannot conclude that the federal regulation in IGRA regarding casino construction is extensive. The court reasoned that even with a more factually developed record than the court considered on summary judgment, the Bracker balancing test does not weigh in favor of preemption under IGRA because the extent of federal regulation over casino construction on tribal land is minimal, the impact of the excise tax on the tribal interests is minimal, and the State has a strong interest in raising revenue to provide essential government services to its citizens, including tribal members. The district court thus erroneously entered judgment in favor of the Tribe based on IGRA’s preemption of the excise tax. View "Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Michael Houdyshell" on Justia Law