The Gun Lake Casino in Michigan is currently involved in a lawsuit that is seeking the closure of the casino outside of Grand Rapids. The casino is developed and managed by Station Casinos LLC. Depending on the outcome of this case, it could possibly have a major effect on the $26.73 billion dollar industry.
The case was remanded from the U.S. Supreme Court to the U.S. Court of Appeals this past week and depending on how the U.S. Court of Appeals rules, the decision could have a major effect on how tribal casinos are funded. The issue in this lawsuit is how the federal governments takes land into trust for Native American tribes. According to Steven Light (co-director of the Institute for the study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota), depending on the outcome, "It's potentially a huge problem for expansion of gaming for recently recognized tribes."
David Patchak is challenging the way the federal government took 147 acres in trust for the Matchebenashshewish band of Pottawatomi Indians. The federal government formally recognized the tribe in 1999. Patchak's argument is that the tribe cannot have land placed into trust under IGRA because the tribe was recognized well after 1934. In Carcieri v. Salazar, the court held that only tribes "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934 are eligible to have their land held in trust by the federal government.
This court decision would impact
class III gaming operations for tribes who would like to operate a class III
gaming casino. This decision would also
impact the tribes financially because potential investors may be hesitant to
invest in a tribal casino due to litigation about whether the tribe has a valid
trust with the federal government.