Compacts | Litigation
Native Sun News: Trial set in Flandreau Santee Sioux gaming suit

The following story was written and reported by Ernestine Chasing Hawk . All content © Native Sun News.

SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA –– Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Chairman Tony Reider said his tribe is pleased with U.S. Magistrate Judge John Simko’s recent decision that denied the state access to financial records from their Royal River Casino.

The tribe filed a lawsuit in 2007 challenging the state failed to “negotiate in good faith” an expired gaming compact.

“We feel it was a really great decision. We don’t feel there is any relevance to their request to have information about how much money we make off our machines,” Reider said.

Reider said he believes the request was a ploy by the state to argue that casino revenues are sufficient to meets the needs of the tribe.

“The state was just trying to get the information so that they can say that we are already making enough money,” he said.

FSST members receive a monthly per capita payment; however the amount was recently decreased due to an increase in membership.

The expired compact with the state limits the tribe to 250 Class III machines which tribal leaders believe has drastically limited their ability to compete in the market.

Compacts with neighboring North Dakota do not limit the number of machines tribes are permitted to operate. Minnesota compacts allow tribes to operate more than 2,000 machines each with the Mystic Lake Casino having more than 4,000 machines.

However the S.D. Governors office has argued that South Dakota has limited gambling, but the Flandreau Santee Sioux disagree.

“There is no limit on the amount of machines allowed in Deadwood and there is no limit on the amount of Video Lottery machines the state is allowed to operate,” Reider said.

De Knudson Sioux Falls City Councilman said that at this time, 8,900 video gambling terminals in 1,470 establishments exist throughout the entire state and that more of those terminals are located in Sioux Falls than anywhere else.

A greater threat to FSST gaming revenues is a $120 million Iowa casino being built just inches from the South Dakota border, eight miles southeast of Sioux Falls. Lyons County Commissioners unanimously passed the plan citing that it was not a threat to Iowa’s 17 other casinos because it would draw 80 percent of its revenue from other states. The Larchwood casino will have 900 machines.

Although compact negotiations continue with the state, a June 14, 2011 trial date has been set for the lawsuit, Reider said.

Ernestine Chasing Hawk can be reached at: