Judge Says Tribe Can Intervene in Casino Case

     (CN) – Wisconsin’s Menominee Indians have standing to intervene in another tribe’s dispute over a casino contract, the D.C. federal court ruled.
     The Potawatomi tribe sued the federal government and the U.S. Department of Interior in January 2015, challenging their rejection of an amendment to a gaming compact between the tribe and the state of Wisconsin.
     Other defendants included Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn.
     The amendment would create a 50-mile “no-competition zone” around the Potawatomi’s casino in Milwaukee. It also would require the state to compensate the Potawatomi if another tribe builds a casino within that zone.
     The Menominee have proposed a casino of their own in Kenosha, approximately 33 miles from the Potawatomi’s facility.
     The Potawatomi alleged that the federal government mistakenly interpreted the amendment as to require the Menominee to compensate them for lost revenue.
     In a 17-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the Menominee have the right to intervene in the lawsuit, despite the arguments of the Potawatomi.
     She noted that the Menominee have been trying to establish a casino of their own for years.
     “The Menominee would suffer concrete injury if the Court grants the relief that Plaintiffs seek, namely, an order setting aside the Federal Defendants’ disapproval of the 2014 Compact Amendment and compelling the Federal Defendants to approve the 2014 Compact Amendment or to cause the 2014 Compact Amendment to take effect as ‘deemed approved’ under the IGRA,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
     She stated that if the Potawatomi wins their federal lawsuit, the state would have to pay them to allow the Menominee’s casino.
     “The requested relief, if granted, would, as a practical matter, impede the Menominee’s efforts to obtain a gubernatorial concurrence and would thereby impede their efforts to develop a gaming facility in Kenosha,” the judge wrote.
     Kollar-Kotelly placed some conditions on the Menominee’s intervention. For example, the tribe must confine its arguments to “the existing claims in this action and shall not interject new claims or stray into collateral issues.”

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