Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries

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In the case before the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada, the plaintiff, Steve Wynn, a prominent figure in Nevada gaming and politics, filed a defamation claim against the defendants, The Associated Press and its reporter, Regina Garcia Cano. The claim arose from an article that reported on two separate citizens' complaints alleging sexual assault by Wynn in the 1970s. The defendants responded with a special motion to dismiss the claim under Nevada's anti-SLAPP statutes, which aim to protect the right to free speech and prevent meritless lawsuits intended to chill the exercise of these rights.The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, finding that the article was a good faith communication in furtherance of the right to free speech in connection with an issue of public concern and that Wynn failed to establish a probability of prevailing on the merits of his claim. Wynn appealed this decision, arguing that the district court erred in its analysis under the two-prong anti-SLAPP framework.The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision. Under the first prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis, the court found that the defendants had established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the claim was based on a good faith communication in furtherance of the right to free speech in direct connection with an issue of public concern.Under the second prong, the court clarified that a public figure defamation plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence for a jury, by clear and convincing evidence, to reasonably infer that the publication was made with actual malice. In this case, the court determined that Wynn failed to meet this burden. Hence, he could not establish with prima facie evidence a probability of prevailing on his claim, leading to the affirmation of the district court's order granting the defendants' special motion to dismiss the complaint. View "Wynn v. The Associated Press" on Justia Law

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Ocean Walk, LLC, a company that operates a casino and other entertainment facilities in New Jersey, sought coverage under its commercial property insurance policies for losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company claimed that the presence of the virus in its facilities and the government-mandated temporary suspension of its operations constituted a “direct physical loss” or “direct physical damage” to its property under the terms of the insurance policies issued by several defendants. The Supreme Court of New Jersey, however, disagreed with this interpretation and held that Ocean Walk’s allegations failed to meet the policy language's requirements. The court ruled that to demonstrate a “direct physical loss” or “direct physical damage,” Ocean Walk needed to show that its property was destroyed or altered in such a way that rendered it unusable or uninhabitable. The court noted that the company’s allegations did not suggest that the property suffered a physical change; rather, the company was simply not allowed to use its property due to the executive orders. Furthermore, the court ruled that even if Ocean Walk had pled facts supporting the finding of a covered “loss” or “damage,” the losses it claimed were excluded from coverage by the policies’ contamination exclusion. The court affirmed the lower court's dismissal of Ocean Walk’s complaint. View "AC Ocean Walk, LLC v. American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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In Pennsylvania, a group of casinos, including Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, and Chester Downs and Marina, LLC, sued the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. The casinos claimed that online games offered by the state lottery simulated slot machines, violating restrictions imposed by the state legislature and infringing on the casinos' share of the online market. The Commonwealth Court disagreed and dismissed their complaint.Upon appeal, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania found that the Commonwealth Court erred in its interpretation of the law by focusing on individual components of an online lottery game. The Supreme Court held that determining whether an online lottery game violates the prohibition against simulating a slot machine requires a subjective assessment of the game's overall appearance and effect when in play.The Supreme Court vacated the order of the Commonwealth Court and remanded the case for further proceedings, instructing the lower court to focus on the overall presentation and effect of the challenged game, not on individual features. View "Greenwood Gaming v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that an agreement entered into between Plaintiff Anthony Gattineri and Defendants Wynn MA, LLC and Wynn Resorts, Limited (collectively, Wynn) in San Diego California (the San Diego agreement) was unenforceable for reasons of public policy.Wynn entered into an option contract with FBT Everett Realty, LLC (FBT) to purchase a parcel of property. As Wynn's application for a casino license proceeded, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission discovered that there was a possibility of concealed ownership interests in FBT by a convicted felon with organized crime connections. In response, FBT lowered the purchase price for the parcel. The Commission approved the amended option agreement. Gattineri, a minority owner of FBT, opposed the price reduction and refused to sign the certificate required by the Commission. Gattineri alleged that at the San Diego meeting Wynn had agreed to pay Gattineri an additional $19 million in exchange for Gattineri signing the certificate. After the Commission awarded Wynn a casino license Gattineri brought suit claiming breach of the San Diego agreement because Wynn never paid Gattineri the promised $19 million. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the agreement was deliberately concealed from the Commission and inconsistent with the terms approved by the Commission; and (2) enforcement of such a secret agreement constituted a clear violation of public policy. View "Gattineri v. Wynn MA, LLC" on Justia Law

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Dream, Inc., d/b/a Frontier Bingo ("Frontier"), operated an electronic "bingo" facility located in Greene County, Alabama. Frontier refused to pay Tony Samuels $30,083.88 that he purportedly won playing electronic "bingo" at Frontier's facility. Samuels filed suit against Frontier alleging breach of contract and fraud. Following a jury trial, the trial court entered a judgment on the jury's verdict in favor of Samuels, ordering Frontier to pay Samuels $500,000, and Frontier appealed. Electronic "bingo" games, however, constitute illegal gambling in Alabama. Because Alabama will not enforce an illegal transaction, either in contract or in tort, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the judgment and rendered a judgment in favor of Frontier. View "Dream, Inc. d/b/a Frontier Bingo v. Samuels" on Justia Law

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This appeal related to "electronic-bingo" operations conducted by the Department of Alabama Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States ("the VFW") at some of its Alabama posts. Travis Whaley and Randall Lovvorn contracted with the VFW to superintend and promote its electronic-bingo operations. Between 1997 and 2013, Whaley served the VFW as adjutant, commander, and quartermaster at different times. For his part, Lovvorn served as the VFW's accountant. The VFW contracted with G2 Operations, Inc. ("G2"), to conduct its electronic-bingo operations. Under contract, G2 agreed to conduct electronic-bingo operations at VFW posts throughout Alabama, and the VFW would receive 10% of the gross revenue. All the proceeds from electronic bingo were deposited into a VFW bank account. The VFW also entered into contracts with Whaley and Lovvorn, assigning them specific roles in its electronic-bingo operations. Several years later, after being notified of a tax penalty from the IRS, the VFW discovered a shortfall of $1,782,368.88 from what it should have received under its contracts with G2. The VFW filed a complaint asserting claims against G2 as well as additional claims against other parties, which were eventually whittled down throughout litigation until only claims against Whaley and Lovvorn remained. A jury reached a verdict against Whaley and Lovvorn on VFW's claims of breach of contract, fraudulent suppression, and conversion, awarding $1,782,368.88 in compensatory damages and $2,000,000 in punitive damages. Because the VFW's claims rely upon its own involvement in illegal transactions, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment and rendered judgment in favor of Whaley and Lovvorn. View "Whaley, et al. v. Dept. of Alabama Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the Arkansas Racing Commission's (ARC) decision to award the Pope County casino license to Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC (CNB) and Legends Resort and Casino, LLC (Legends) was a "legal nullity, void and of no effect," holding that the circuit court did not err.In this third iteration of appeals involving the issuance of the license Gulfside Casino Partnership (Gulfside) argued that the ARC's action was ultra vires because it was issued in violation of the clear language of amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Gulfside, concluding that the casino license issued by the ARC jointly to CNB and Legends was an ultra vires action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in its decision. View "Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC v. Gulfside Casino Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Senate Bill (S.B.) 126, which amended Ky. Rev. Stat. 452.005, was unconstitutional and declined to extend comity.Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of House Bill 594, which banned certain types of electronic gaming machines. In response, the Attorney General, who was a named defendant, invoked the newly-enacted provision of S.B. 126, seeking to transfer the case to another circuit court by way of a lottery selection. Plaintiffs responded by challenging the constitutionality of S.B. 126's mandatory transfer procedure. The circuit court temporarily stayed its ruling on Defendants' motion to transfer, and Plaintiffs sought a supervisory writ from the Supreme Court to prohibit transfer of the action and seeking a declaration that S.B. 126 was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court granted relief, holding (1) S.B. 126 violates the separation of powers doctrine, contrary to sections 27, 28, 109, 110 and 116 of the Kentucky Constitution; and (2) S.B. 126 is not extended comity. View "ARKK Properties, LLC v. Cameron" on Justia Law

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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

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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