Casino: Open & Legal

30 Jan

From the article:

A federal judge in Buffalo today rejected a motion to close the temporary Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and hold in contempt the chairman of the agency responsible for approving its legal right to operate.

U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny issued the decision this morning, denying the assertion of the plaintiffs, including Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County, that the casino should be closed. The judge said that the National Indian Gaming Commission’s recent approval of the Seneca Nation’s right to have “Class III” gaming on its Buffalo Creek Territory does not conflict with earlier rulings the judge made in the case last summer.

On Jan. 20, the NIGC and the Interior Department, the two federal agencies charged with regulating Indian gaming, approved new ordinance amendments that specifically reaffirmed the Nation’s casino operations at Buffalo Creek.

“It appears that the (NIGC) chairman’s recent approval of Class III gaming on SNI’s Buffalo Parcel is not based on a reaffirmance of positions or conclusions previously rejected by the court,” Judge Skretny wrote. “Rather, it is predicated on an analysis different from any previously put in issue by the parties.”

The NIGC’s action 10 days ago confirmed that the Nation’s restricted fee lands in downtown Buffalo are eligible for gaming and always have been.

“We are pleased with today’s federal court decision as it reinforces the Nation’s interpretation that the NIGC ordinance amendments earlier this month place this case in a whole new realm of consideration, as the judge has now affirmed,” said Barry E. Snyder Sr., president of the Seneca Nation. “We find that most encouraging.”

The NIGC approval of the amendments adopted by the Tribal Council July 16, 2008 is consistent with the latest Interior Department regulations on Indian gaming. Those federal regulations, issued in June 2008, define the circumstances by which gaming may be allowed on Indian lands acquired after October 17, 1988. They note Congress’ purposeful distinction between “trust” lands and “restricted fee” lands for gaming purposes.

Trust lands are titled in the name of the United States and the United States, in turn, holds and manages those lands “in trust status” for Indian tribes or individual Indians. The Seneca Nation holds title to its own lands and the title is “restricted” in that Congress must approve any transfer of rights and interests in those lands to third parties for that transfer to be valid.

The new Interior Department interpretation announced in June clarifies that gaming is permitted on restricted fee land without the need for any specific regulatory approval beyond what the Nation already secured. Thus, the NIGC ruled, gaming is permitted on the Buffalo Creek property because the restricted fee land is gaming eligible and because, under a decision of U.S. District Court in Buffalo last summer, the site is sovereign Indian land.

“This new analysis is presumed valid unless and until it becomes the subject of a successful legal challenge,” Judge Skretny wrote in his four-page order. “As such, the chairman’s January 20, 2009 ordinance approval renders moot plaintiffs’ motion to enforce the court’s vacatur of the July 2, 2008 ordinance approval.”

A fully operating casino, which already has the support of Buffalo, Erie County and New York State, has the chance to employ 1,200 people and will pay as much as $7 million annually to the city, in addition to salary and benefits for workers.

The Jan. 20 decision was the third NIGC ordinance decision involving casino gaming in Buffalo. In 2002, the NIGC chairman approved the Nation’s Class III gaming ordinance. A challenge several years later led to a federal court decision that said the gaming ordinance must specify the site in Buffalo.

Since Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act more than a decade ago, no other court has reached the same conclusion as the U.S. District Court on Buffalo on this point.

6 Responses to “Casino: Open & Legal”

  1. Don January 31, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    I enjoy the graphics/pictures you come up with for your entries – this one is awesome…fascinating how the brain connects ideas. Thanks.

  2. Ward January 31, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    It seemed back in June that this would be the result from the Interior Dept’s regulations issued at that time, but which Judge Skretny did not address in his July decision–apparently because the US Attorney didn’t advise him of them.

    Just a few more court appearances, and a few thousand more Wendt dollars in Atty fees later … (cue Emily Litella) …

  3. buffaloshark January 31, 2009 at 4:43 pm #

    Joel Rose needs to go away.
    He doesn’t want to gamble fine, but why the need to push his views on others?

    That said, I don’t see where the Senecas think a Buffalo casino is going to be financially viable. They already have on in Salamanca, some kind of poker place in Irving, and a casino in Niagara Falls. The only people that will come to the Buffalo casino are ones that have already been going to the others. So with another site the Senecas increase their expenses without increasing their revenue.

  4. LT January 31, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    Mr. Rose does not speak for me- – -I really resent his apparent self-righteousness–I also resent the fact that whenever a decision comes down he’s always getting face and voice time—I bet Rush Limbaugh would consider anointing him as our local Messiah—without him leading our community along the path of righteousness we might be irreparably harmed—if he wants to take up a crusade why not go after our dysfunctional state government–he sounds like he is a man of energy and conviction and his efforts might actually matter if he channels them in a needed direction

  5. hank February 2, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Any of the above commentors KNOW Joel Rose? Ever sat down and talked with him? I HAVE. Yep, I live in NC, but last time I was home in July 06, Joel was invited to a get-together at the Croatian Club in Riverside. Councilman Joe Golombek was the Bartender, and Rus Thompson, myself, and the FNY gang (JO, Peter Reese, Mike Walsh, Ray Roberts) was in attendance. Joel came at my request.

    Joel is as liberal as they come. And he explained his reasons for opposing gambling. He told me as a liberal he is always concerned about the plight of his fellow man. (sounds liberal to me) Libertarians could give a shit less as all personal freedom is supreme, and conservatives also believe that you should be smart enough not to gamble when the odds are stacked against you.

    Joel knows, just as most of you and the Seneca’s do too, that the only game of chance in a casino that gives you ANY chance of beating the house is Black Jack. Slots and other casino games are set up to take your dough.

    Joel’s concern is that desperate people who have little money, will try to parlay what little they have into more by gambling. And why put a place for these people to lose their coin to the Indians close enough to make it convienent?

    He also has a gripe as to how the Nation cares for it’s members with profits from the Casinos they already have. Their site used to give you links to pictures from the Res that show that profits aren’t very well distributed to all members of the tribe.

  6. Ward February 2, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    Interesting dichotomy. The very same people who will crusade in favor of the right of a 14-year old girl to make the most momentous decision of her young life without parental interference, will crusade tirelessly against my right to walk into a casino and decide whether I should lay down a $5 bet at the blackjack table.

    A real head-scratcher.

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