Coeur d'Alene Tribe weighs options after losing poker ruling

The Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Worley, Idaho. Photo by John Granen / Facebook

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho is weighing its options after losing a decision in gaming dispute on Wednesday.

Chairman Chief Allan told The Spokesman-Review that he was "disappointed" with the ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel said the Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort can't offer Texas Hold’em games because they are illegal under state law.

The tribe could ask the 9th Circuit to rehear the case. Or it could take the dispute to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose last ruling on Indian gaming was Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community from 2014.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Oral Arguments in State of Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe

The 9th Circuit cited Bay Mills because the Coeur d'Alene Tribe claimed sovereign immunity after being sued by the state of Idaho. "An Indian tribe is subject to suit only when Congress has abrogated the tribe’s sovereign immunity by statute or when the tribe has waived its immunity," Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wrote in the unanimous ruling.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act authorizes states to sue tribes for alleged violations of a Class III gaming compact. To get around that waiver, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe argued that Texas Hold'em is a Class II game.

The 9th Circuit did not agree with that claim. "Though skill undoubtedly plays a role in Hold’em, the game does not qualify for the statutory exemption for bona fide contests of skill, speed, strength or endurance," the decision stated.

Since Texas Hold’em is a Class III game, the court concluded that IGRA "severed" the tribe's sovereign immunity.

Turtle Talk has posted briefs from the case, Idaho v. Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

Get the Story:
Coeur d’Alene Tribe loses Texas Hold ’Em appeal (The Spokesman-Review 7/23)
Appeals Court Upholds Ban on Idaho Tribe's Poker Contests (AP 7/22)

9th Circuit Decision:
Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe (July 22, 2015)

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