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California tribes fight for gaming exclusivity

california tribes exclusivity
The tribes released a statement together on Tuesday. Credits: Getty Images

The tribes from California said that they will continue fighting to protect the exclusivity that they had guaranteed in the state gaming compacts.

US.- The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California has granted the State of California’s request to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation for breach of their respective compacts with the State.

The tribes released a statement in which they explained that the dismissal wasn’t in relation to the merits of their position, and in particular whether California card rooms are offering illegal house-banked games in violation of tribal gaming rights.

“While the court expressly acknowledged the exclusive right of tribes to conduct banked card games, the ruling constituted a procedural finding by the court that it lacked the power to require the State to enforce the law under the tribes’ compacts,” said the tribes.

They also said that the court reasoned that the state had not promised to protect their rights to gaming exclusivity, despite compact language acknowledging “the exclusive right” each tribe enjoyed under its Compact “to operate a gaming facility in an economic environment free of competition from the operation of slot machines and banked card games on non-Indian lands.”

Nonetheless, the court found the compacts are not the vehicle under which the tribes can force the State to enforce the law, and protect their exclusive right to offer house-banked card games. The tribes said that they respectfully disagree with the ruling and are considering an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Despite the court’s ruling, the tribes will continue their efforts, through whatever means necessary, to preserve the rights guaranteed to them.”

Back in 2000, California voters approved Proposition 1A, a constitutional amendment allowing Las Vegas-style gaming, but with exclusivity for tribes with negotiated compacts with the state.

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