With the Court's decision in favor of the Wyandotte Nation, the tribe claimed that the federal court ruling on the case opens the door for the continuation of the gambling operations at a shut down casino in downtown Kansas City.
According to the decision of U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson last thursday, who is based in Topeka, the National Indian Gaming Commission acted wrongly when it found that the Wyandotte Tribe had no legal rights whatsoever to operate the small scale casino that are based in siding-clad trailers that were attached to an old Masonic lodge.
Since then, the trailers have been removed, leaving in its place an asphalt pad and a chain link fence which surrounds the place where it once stood.
State authorities shut down the establishment not long after the National Indian Gaming Commission sent a letter to the Wyandotte tribe explaining its position in the issue last March 2004. The tribe appealed the case. The Wyandotte tribe lived in the area on what was to become known as Kansas City, particularly in Wyandotte country for a span of 11 years during the mid 1800's.
Attorney Conly J. Schulte of Omaha, Nebraska who acts as the Wyandotte tribe's attorney said in a news release that with decision of the federal court clears away any obstacle in resuming the gambling operations of the tribe at the Shriner Tract.
That is the third "win" for the tribe in just a matter of months when it comes to court cases. One of those decisions in favor of the tribe are the decision by the 10th District U.S. Court of Appeals just last April in which a panel composed of three judges found that the state had no power to shut down a casino because it is located on Indian Territory.
Attorney Conly Schulte, who is the lead counsel of the tribe's casino litigation, also added that they were both extremely pleased and happy about the decision of the court
The National Indian Gaming Commission declined to comment on the ruling although the commission could still appeal Thursday's ruling regarding the matter.
The root cause of Thursday's ruling comes from the issue whether the Wyandotte tribe followed the federal law that prohibits tribes from building casinos on lands that they have acquired after the 1988 ruling by the Congress unless the property meets one of the several exceptions. One of those is if the lands were acquired as part of a land claim settlement.
The tribe insisted that they met the said exception on the law because it had bought the lands on which the casino is built using money it have gotten from a settlement case. The argument that the National Indian Gaming Commission had held was the property does not count for that particular exception because the Wyandotte tribe was awarded the money instead of the land in an Indian claim court proceeding.
Judge Julie Robinson agreed with the tribe in her ruling noting that the Congress had ordered that part of the money received from the settlement be used to buy a land for the Wyandotte tribe. There is no need to negotiate for a compact with the state officials on the part of the Wyandotte tribe because the machines that are used by the tribe for its operations are categorized as bingo and bingo-like machines although they look and operate like slot machines. The distinction is important because establishments with slot machines are required to negotiate for a gaming compact with the state unlike facilties with bingo machines that do not need to negotiate a compact for their operation.
According to Attorney Conly J. Schulte, he was still consulting with the tribe on opening the casino now that the court has ruled in favor of the tribe. Other appeals regarding the case are still pending as of this time.
Thursday, August 24, 2006