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Rincon Indian Tribe Wins Slots Case Against State

On August 6th, 2008, an appeals court has agreed with the Rincon Indian Tribe that a lawsuit against the state over the number of machines that the tribe can offer was incorrectly dismissed. The tribe and state officials disagreed on the number of machines that are allowed under the gaming compacts previously negotiated with Governor Gray Davis in 1999. Those gaming compacts with about sixty tribes commented that no tribe could possess more than two thousand slot machines and also stated that there would be a statewide limit on the total number of machines as well. Rincon was one of the Indian tribes that are sued over the problem.

Neighbor San Pasqual, which manages the Valley View Casino and the Colusa band north of Sacramento have made similar claims. Each of the tribes manages fewer than two thousand slot machines and commented that the state has wrongfully calculated the statewide limit. They want the federal judges to compel the state to release more licenses for slot machines. Three federal judges commented that they could not rule on the important issues in those cases because the other Indian tribes that signed those agreements because it is important.

Those tribes cannot be sued against their will because they have sovereign immunity. Aside from that, a 3 judge panel of the ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals commented that the judge in the Rincon case committed some mistakes. It is true that other tribe have a financial commitment in scaling down the number of slot machines their competitor may manage because it will have a drastic effect on the overall market share. But that is not enough to make them a party on the case. Rincon's case against the state should be bought back to the federal court in San Diego.

The appeals court reached the same decision is sending the lawsuit filed by the Colusa band back to a Sacramento judge. The appeal regarding the San Pasqual's lawsuit against the state is still pending. Earlier this year, a federal judge decided in another part of the same Rincon tribe lawsuit that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had negotiated a gaming compact in bad faith by requiring payments for California's general fund in exchange for allowing Rincon to offer more slot machines.

Rincon leaders said that they are against paying into the general fund of the state but will pay officials for more police officers, roads and other things needed in dealing with an expanded casino facility.


Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Darren G. Strachan