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New York Tribe Can Dispute Anti-Gaming Law

MANHATTAN (CN) — Known as the "People of the Great Swamp," the Cayuga Nation can fight an anti-gaming ordinance pushed by a village bordering one of New York's Finger Lakes, the Second Circuit ruled Thursday.

The Cayuga people have been battling U.S. government authorities ever since the American Revolution.

"Following the Revolutionary War, in 1779, General George Washington commissioned General John Sullivan and James Clinton to destroy the Cayugas and other members of the Haudenosaunee," according to the tribe's website. "These two Generals led 6,200 troops into many villages and crop fields of the Cayugas and the Haudenosaunee and destroyed them."

Members of the tribe who were not scattered to Canada — and regions that became Ohio, Buffalo Creek, and Oklahoma — negotiated a treaty with the first president of the United States to remain in what is now Union Springs, N.Y.

This village borders the east shore of Cayuga Lake, where the federally recognized tribe hoped to set up a gaming facility called LakeSide Entertainment.

The casino reportedly touted its selection of more than 80 electronic bingo games, including "Blazin' Streak" and "Zombie Outbreak."

When Union Springs authorities demanded that the Cayuga obtain a license, the tribe sued the village in the Northern District of New York. The lawsuit claimed that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act preempts application of the ordinance.

U.S. District Judge David Hurd found last year that he had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

On Thursday, the Second Circuit unanimously disagreed in a 26-page opinion.

Judge Gerard Lynch, the lead author, rejected the village's view that the federal representative of Cayuga lacked standing to sue, and that the tribe had not sufficiently alleged an injury-in-fact.

"Where, as here, there is reason to believe that the plaintiffs will be targets of criminal prosecution, and there has been no disavowal of an intention to prosecute those individuals, the plaintiffs have adequately alleged a credible threat of prosecution," Lynch wrote for a three-judge panel.

A lawyer for Union Springs emphasized the narrow nature of the ruling.

"The decision does not address the merits of the case and simply states that the members of the tribe have standing (can pursue their claim that they can gamble), but that the village can argue that they are prohibited from doing so by virtue of federal law," attorney Cornelius Murray, of the firm O'Connell & Aronowitz, wrote in an email.

An attorney for the Cayuga Nation declined to comment.

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