Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming in part and reversing and remanding in part and order entered by the superior court entering final judgment in favor of Defendants in this litigation to enjoin enforcement measures stemming from the belief that a Rewards Program encompassed within the operation of Crazie Overstock LLC's enterprise was unlawful, holding that the Rewards Program constituted an unlawful sweepstakes in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-306.4.Crazie Overstock brought this action to enjoin enforcement measures taken by the State and certain members of the State's Alcohol and Law Enforcement Division. The enforcement measures were taken on the grounds that the Rewards Program was unlawful. The superior court entered final judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that the Crazie Overstock Rewards Program may violate N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-306.4 and other North Carolina gambling provisions. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment for Defendants with respect to the issue of whether the Rewards Program violated section 14-306.4 but reversed and remanded as to the issue of whether the program violated section 14-306.1A. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that the Rewards Program constituted an unlawful sweepstakes in violation of section 14-306.4, and remand was unnecessary. View "Crazie Overstock Promotions, LLC v. State" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the DOI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, federal officials, and the Spokane Tribe of Indians, in an action brought by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, challenging the Secretary of DOI's decision determining that the Spokane Tribe of Indians' proposed gaming establishment on newly acquired off-reservation land would not be detrimental to the surrounding community. Kalispel raised challenges pursuant to the the Administrative Procedure Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.The panel held that IGRA requires the Secretary to weigh and consider the various interests of those within the surrounding community when deciding whether additional off-reservation gaming would be detrimental to the surrounding community. A showing that additional gaming may be detrimental to some members of the surrounding community, including an Indian tribe, does not dictate the outcome of the Secretary's two-step determination. The panel agreed with the DC Circuit and rejected Kalispel's argument that any detriment to Kalispel precluded the Secretary from issuing a favorable two-part determination. Rather, the panel concluded that the Secretary had the authority to issue a two-step determination, and the Secretary's decision to issue a favorable decision here was neither arbitrary nor capricious. The panel declined to reach the merits of Kalispel's contention, which was not advanced in the district court, that the Secretary previously announced a policy that additional off-reservation gaming would not be approved if a nearby Indian tribe could show that additional gaming would be detrimental to it. Finally, the panel concluded that Kalispel has not shown that the Secretary failed to consider its claimed harms or to comply with the relevant statutes and regulations, and thus it has not shown that the Secretary violated the federal government's trust duty owed to Kalispel. View "Kalispel Tribe of Indians v. U.S. Department of the Interior" on Justia Law

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The State of Alabama appealed a circuit court order that dismissed the State's claims seeking injunctive and declaratory relief "to abate a public nuisance of unlawful gambling," pursuant to section 6-5-120, Ala. Code 1975, against some, but not all, of the defendants. The circuit court certified its order as final pursuant to Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P. However, we determine that the order was not appropriate for Rule 54(b) certification; therefore, the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. View "Alabama v. Epic Tech, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the Governor's authority to concur in the decision of the United States Secretary of the Interior to take 305 acres of land in Madera County into trust for North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians for the purpose of operating a casino. The trial court sustained demurrers by North Fork and the state defendants. In 2016, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment of dismissal, concluding the Governor lacked the authority to concur in the Interior Secretary's determination to take the Madera site into trust. The California Supreme Court granted review and held this case pending its decision in United Auburn Indian Community of Auburn Rancheria v. Newsom (2020) 10 Cal.5th 538. The Supreme Court transferred this case back to this court after deciding that California law empowers the Governor to concur. The Supreme Court directed this court to vacate its decision and to reconsider the matter in light of United Auburn.The Court of Appeal concluded that the facts of this case are distinguishable from those in United Auburn because at the November 2014 general election California voters rejected the Legislature's ratification of the tribal-state compact for gaming at the Madera site. The court concluded that the people retained the power to annul a concurrence by the Governor and the voters exercised this retained power at the 2014 election by impliedly revoking the concurrence for the Madera site. Consequently, the concurrence is no longer valid, and the demurrer should have been overruled. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of dismissal and directed the trial court to vacate its order sustaining the demurrers and enter a new order overruling them. View "Stand Up for California! v. California" on Justia Law

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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