Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Gaming Law

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JAC filed suit contending that the NIGC violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4370h, when it approved the Tribe's gaming ordinance without first conducting a NEPA environmental review. The district court denied JAC's petition for a writ of mandamus under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706, holding that NIGC’s approval of the 2013 gaming ordinance was not “major federal action” within the meaning of NEPA. Even if NIGC's approval of the ordinance was a major Federal action, the court held that an agency need not adhere to NEPA where doing so would create an irreconcilable and fundamental conflict with the substantive statute at issue. In this case, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2701–2721, requires NIGC to approve a gaming ordinance or resolution pursuant to a mandatory deadline. There is no question that it would be impossible for NIGC to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in the ninety days it has to approve a gaming ordinance. Contrary to JAC’s arguments, NIGC’s approval of the Tribe’s gaming ordinance without conducting a NEPA environmental review did not violate NIGC’s obligations under NEPA because "where a clear and unavoidable conflict in statutory authority exists, NEPA must give way.” Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of plaintiff's requested writ of mandamus. View "Jamul Action Comm. v. Chaudhuri" on Justia Law

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The Nation and the State executed a gaming compact in 2002 pursuant to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2701-2721. After the Compact was approved by the Secretary of the Interior and became effective in 2003, the Nation purchased an unincorporated parcel of land within the outer boundaries of Glendale, Arizona, pursuant to the federal Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act (LRA). Plaintiffs filed suit against the Nation seeking to enjoin the Nation's plan to conduct Class III gaming on Parcel 2. The district court granted summary judgment to the Nation. The court concluded that, under the ordinary meaning of the words used in the statutory text, the Nation plainly had “land claims” for damage to its reservation lands; were the court to find the term “land claim” to be ambiguous, and proceeded under Chevron to apply the DOI’s definition of the term, then the court would find that the Nation also had a claim concerning the impairment of title or other real property interest or loss of possession of its reservation land; and the district court did not err in determining that the LRA was a “settlement” of the Nation’s land claims. The court also concluded that the district court properly rejected plaintiffs' claims of judicial estoppel and waiver; the duly-executed Compact negotiated at length by sophisticated parties expressly authorizes the Nation to conduct gaming on its “Indian Lands,” subject to the requirements of section 2719 of IGRA; because Parcel 2 complies with the requirements of section 2719, and the Compact expressly allows the Nation to conduct Class III gaming there, the district court correctly entered summary judgment in favor of the Nation on plaintiffs’ breach of Compact claim; the Nation's choice to conduct Class III gaming in accordance with the express terms of the Compact does not deviate from the agreed common purpose of the Compact, and therefore does not breach the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and the district court correctly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ non-Compact claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Gila River Indian Cmty. v. Tohono O'odham Nation" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute between Pauma and the State over Tribal-State Gaming Compacts. Pauma filed suit against the State based on the court's prior decision in Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community v. California (Colusa II). The district court granted summary judgment to Pauma on its misrepresentation claim. The court held that once a court’s judgment interpreting an ambiguous contract provision becomes final, that is and has always been the correct interpretation from its inception. Therefore, the court concluded that Colusa II's interpretation of the Compacts’ license pool provision applies retroactively, such that the State would be deemed to have misrepresented a material fact as to how many gaming licenses were available when negotiating with Pauma to amend its Compact; the district court awarded the proper remedy to Pauma by refunding $36.2 million in overpayments; and the State has waived its sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. The court agreed with the district court's finding that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2710, is inapplicable in this case and therefore Pauma's argument that the State acted in bad faith is irrelevant. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission Indians v. California" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his second amended complaint against Sony, alleging that Sony violated the Video Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2701, by retaining plaintiff's personally identifiable information beyond the Act's statutory limits, and disclosing his personal information between Sony entities. After carefully examining the legislative history, structure and language of 18 U.S.C. 2710 as a whole, the court agreed with the Sixth and Seventh Circuits, and concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff’s unlawful retention claim for lack of a private right of action. The court also concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's unlawful disclosure claim because he failed to sufficiently allege that intra-corporate disclosures of consumers’ personal information between Sony entities to sustain the operations of the PlayStation Network violated the Act. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Rodriguez v. Sony Computer Entm't" on Justia Law
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The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) divides gaming on Indian lands into three classes and provides a different regulatory scheme for each class. “Non-banking” card games (including poker) can be either Class II or Class III gaming, depending on the laws of the state in which the gaming takes place, 25 U.S.C. 2703. Banking card games are those in which the casino participates “in the game, where the house takes on all players, collects from all losers, and pays all winners, and the house can win.” The Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the state executed a Compact authorizing the Tribe to offer Class III gaming. The parties failed to agree on the scope of gaming allowed by Idaho law. The state argued that Idaho law only permitted the state lottery and parimutuel betting, while the Tribe countered that it allowed “all games that contain the elements of chance and or skill, prize and consideration.” Idaho officials learned that the Tribe intended to offer Texas Hold’em at the Casino and obtained a preliminary injunction. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that tribal sovereign immunity was not abrogated and that venue was improper under the terms of the Tribal-State Gaming Compact and upholding the district court’s findings. View "State of Idaho v. Coeur D'Alene TribeRIBE" on Justia Law

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In 1991, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington and the State of Washington signed a tribal-state gaming compact (the Tulalip Compact), which has since been amended numerous times. The Spokane Tribe did not participate in the collective negotiation process that led to the Tulalip Compact. In 2007, a compact between the Spokane Tribe and the State (the Spokane Compact) became effective. In 2010, Tulalip requested negotiations with the State to amend its compact to enable Tulalip to acquire additional licenses to video player terminals licenses to video player terminals for Class III gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. When negotiations broke down, Tulalip initiated suit, asserting that the “most-favored tribe” clause in the Tulalip Compact entitled it to the amendment because the mechanism was available to the Spokane Tribe but unavailable to Tulalip. The district court granted summary judgment to the State and denied Tulalip’s cross-motion for summary judgment. A panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the most-favored tribe clause did not require the State to adopt Tulalip’s proposed amendment because the amendment did not mirror the restrictions set forth the Spokane compact. View "Tulalip Tribes of Washington v. State of Washington" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Wynn Las Vegas, alleging claims of breach of contract and recoupment regarding gambling debts that plaintiff owed to Wynn. The district court dismissed based on plaintiff's failure to exhaust the claims before the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The court held, however, that plaintiff was not required to exhaust his claims before the Gaming Control Board because the markers that underlie his case are credit instruments under Nevada law. Because the markers are credit instruments, plaintiff's claims did not trigger the Gaming Control Board's exclusive jurisdiction under Nev. Rev. Stat. 463.361(2). Plaintiff's claims must be resolved in the same manner as any other dispute involving the enforceability of a negotiable instrument. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.View "Zoggolis v. Wynn Las Vegas" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs, commercial fishermen, brought an action against defendant, who was the Commissioner of the Fisheries for the State of Alaska (Commissioner), asking the district court to declare that certain regulations, which shorten the fishing year and limited the number of salmon that commercial fishermen could harvest, were unconstitutional as a taking of property without just compensation and as a violation of plaintiffs' due process rights. The district court granted summary judgment to the Commissioner, holding that plaintiffs lacked a property interest in their entry permits, that they had expressly waived any right to compensation with respect to their shore leases, and that they had not suffered a due process violation. Plaintiffs subsequently appealed. The court held that under Alaska law, plaintiffs have only a license, and not a protected property interest, in the entry permits. The court also held that plaintiffs contractually waived their right to challenge the regulations when they signed their lease agreements and the court declined to analyze their claims on the merits. The court further held that Alaska Statutes section 16.43.150(e) did not violate plaintiffs' substantive due process rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants after plaintiff was arrested for, among other things, possession of false identification documents, when he reported to an agent with the Enforcement Division of the Nevada Gaming Control Board ("NGCB") that MGM management had unlawfully denied him payment of his tickets at their casinos. The agent arrested plaintiff after casino records indicated that he had previously redeemed tickets under two different names and the charges against plaintiff were later dismissed. At issue was whether plaintiff's false arrest/false imprisonment, battery, and premises liability claims were properly dismissed under Nevada law and whether plaintiff's false arrest and conspiracy to commit false arrest claims were properly dismissed under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) where plaintiff admitted to the agent that he possessed and used an unofficial identification card and credit card with a different name to gamble at several Las Vegas casinos; where plaintiff's admissions provided the agent with probable cause to believe he had committed a crime and therefore permitting the agent to arrest him; and where, as a result, plaintiff's amended complaint failed to state plausible claims for false arrest, conspiracy to commit false arrest, false imprisonment, and premises liability under state and federal law.