9th Cir. Rejects Tribe’s Bid for Gaming Machines

By June Williams, Courthouse News Service

(CN) – The 9th Circuit denied the Tulalip Tribes’ bid for additional licenses for video gambling machines, despite the tribe’s claim other members of the state gaming compact are being treated more favorably.
The Tulalip claimed Washington allows the Spokane Tribe to lease more lottery terminals at a better rates, contrary to a “most favored” tribe guarantee for the Tulalip.
The state regulates tribes’ operations of player terminals for a tribal lottery system under a Tribal-State Gaming Compact. The Tulalip can operate 975 terminals but may increase the amount up to 4,000 by purchasing allocation rights from any Washington tribe in the compact. The procedure is known as a terminal allocation plan, or TAP.
In 2007, the Spokane Tribe joined other tribes in the gaming compact. The state allowed the tribe to make payments into an inter-tribal fund to obtain additional terminals if it couldn’t secure the machines under the TAP procedure because “few, if any” machines were available for lease, according to court documents.
The Tulalip claimed the state gave the Spokane more favorable terms by allowing the tribe an additional way to obtain terminals and petitioned to have the same opportunity by amending its compact. After the state refused, the Tulalip filed a federal complaint in 2012 saying the state breached the compact and asking for an injunction amending the agreement.
In 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones granted summary judgment to the state, saying the Tulalip wanted to “cherry-pick” the benefits of the inter-tribal fund provision. The Tulalip appealed to the 9th Circuit.
A three-judge panel ruled on Friday the state is not required to adopt the Tulalip’s amendment because it didn’t “mirror the restrictions” that were in the Spokane’s compact.
Writing for the majority, Judge M. Margaret McKeown said the inter-tribal fund method “carries with it interdependent conditions and consequences” that the Tulalip’s amendment failed to include.
“We hold simply that Tulalip is not entitled as a matter of law to the more selective set of terms in its proposed amendment. The most-favored tribe clause does not allow a ‘pick and choose’ arrangement. The district court correctly entered judgment for the State. Simply put, Tulalip’s proposal does not mirror the restrictions of Appendix Spokane, and those are the terms to which the State agreed,”
The panel did not determine whether the Spokane compact was more favorable, according to the opinion.
David Giampetroni, an attorney with Kanji Katzen PLLC, which represented the Tulalip Tribes, said in an email to Courthouse News that his client is disappointed in the ruling and “respectfully disagrees with the decision reached by the court.”
“The Tribe is evaluating its options,” the attorney said.