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.  

Tribal Deal Would Set Number of Gambling Machines in Wash. State

Associated Press
Associated Press



The number of gambling machines in Washington state tribal casinos is set to increase by several thousand and rise automatically in the future under a compact recently approved by state legislators and the state Gambling Commission.

The compact between 27 of the state’s 29 tribes would allow a 10 percent bump to the state’s 28,000 slot-style machines and make future adjustments based on gambling demands.

Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the compact, and send it to the U.S. Department of Interior for final approval.

In years past, determining the maximum number of gambling machines in the state required gathering representatives from casino and non-casino tribes for rounds of controversial negotiations.Many of the state’s rural tribes don’t have casinos, but can profit from leasing their allotment of machines to casinos on other reservations. When casinos are allowed to add machines, non-casino tribes stand to lose leases and a critical source of income.

Under the new agreement, if the total number of leasable machines dips below 500, tribes can automatically increase the statewide cap by 50 machines per tribe. “These amendments allow for market-based growth and only if there is a real need,” said Chris Stearns, chairman of the state gambling commission. “It saves the state and the tribes a lot of effort and it removes a lot of tension. That made a lot of sense to us.”

The state’s $2.2 billion casino gambling industry has leveled off some in recent years after a period of significant growth, according to the state gambling commission. Tribal leaders representing the state’s 28 casinos say they expect machine gambling to grow moderately in the coming years.

Stearns said he wasn’t aware of any other states that have taken a similar market-based approach to setting caps on slots or gambling machines.

Gambling law in Washington State prohibits traditional slots that set odds within individual machines. Instead, machine players win based on a back-end lottery system.

Tucked away on remote coastline, the Quileute reservation is one of the non-casino tribes that could lose out on leasing revenue if machine caps were set too high. Speaking before the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee in Olympia, Quileute chairman Charles Woodruff said the new compact had the support of small tribes and would ensure more Quileute youth would enter college. “Without these gaming revenues to help kids along the way, it wouldn’t be possible,” he said.

The state’s two federally recognized tribes that did not sign the compact — the Muckleshoot and the Puyallup — could still benefit from cap increases in the future.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/02/20/tribal-deal-would-set-number-gambling-machines-wash-state-159299

Deal Would Allow More Gambling Machines At Tribal Casinos

By: Associated Press


TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A tentative deal between Washington state and Indian tribes would allow more gambling machines at tribal casinos.

Over the years, the number of slot-style machines allowed has been set in prolonged and sometimes difficult negotiations, The News Tribunereported. But under the latest deal, the number — currently about 28,000 — would increase by 10 percent, and then automatically increase as market conditions dictate.

In theory, the number of machines could double over the next decade. But W. Ron Allen, with the Washington Indian Gaming Association, said that’s unlikely because the gambling market isn’t increasing that quickly.

The state Gambling Commission and four state lawmakers will vote next month on whether to send the deal to Gov. Jay Inslee for approval. At least one of those lawmakers, Republican Sen. Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla, said he opposes allowing the number of machines to increase in perpetuity unless the tribes agree to share some of their casino profits.

“In my opinion, this is probably the last shot we’ll ever get” to secure revenue sharing, Hewitt said.

Amy Hunter, who leads the commission’s communications and legal division, said that under the deal, state negotiators secured full compensation for the state’s costs for regulating the casinos. The existing fee arrangement falls short of that, she said.

The deal includes 27 of 29 tribes in the state — all but the Puyallup and Muckleshoot.

Under the terms, the gambling-machine limit would go up by 2,700, plus 1,350 more if the Cowlitz tribe in southwest Washington moves forward with a planned casino.

In any year that tribes come close to maxing out their new cap, the limit would rise again by another 1,350 statewide.

The long, steep climb of tribal gambling profits since casinos started opening in the 1990s leveled off last year, holding steady at $2.2 billion.

Tribal leaders say there isn’t enough demand for a major expansion of the gambling market. “I think it can only go so big anyway, and then the market is full,” said Mel Tonasket, vice chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Nontribal businesses can have card rooms but not slot-style machines. The state constitution allows gambling to be authorized only by supermajorities of lawmakers or voters.

That makes it hard for the nontribal businesses to see an expansion of tribal gambling proposed.

“It’s hard for us to sit back and watch an expansion of gambling which if we wanted, would take a 60 percent vote of the Legislature to get,” said Dolores Chiechi, executive director of the Recreational Gaming Association, which represents card rooms.

There’s not enough support in the Legislature for her group to resume its push for machines in card rooms this year, Chiechi said.