Compacts | Litigation

Quapaw Tribe sues Kansas to force gaming compact negotiations




The Downstream Casino Resort is located on land in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Photo from Facebook

The Quapaw Tribe sued the state of Kansas on Tuesday in hopes of forcing Gov. Sam Brownback (R) to come to the table for a Class III gaming compact.

The tribe plans to expand the Downstream Casino Resort onto its trust land in Kansas. But without a compact, the tribe won't be able to offer Class III games, like slot machines and table games.

"The Quapaw Tribe has had no choice but to file a legal challenge to Governor Brownback’s actions," Chairman John Berrey said in a statement. "The governor’s actions violate the mandates of federal law that states must (1) negotiate class III gaming compacts with Indian tribes, and (2) must negotiate in good faith. Governor Brownback has done neither."

The state already sued individual Quapaw leaders and the National Indian Gaming Commission over the expansion plan. A federal judge dismissed the case last month, citing the tribe's sovereign immunity and a lack of jurisdiction over the NIGC's Indian lands opinion for the trust site in Kansas.

The state is now asking the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to revive the case. The complaint in Quapaw Tribe v. State of Kansas claims the lawsuit was only filed to discourage the tribe from pursuing its rights under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Class III gaming is legal in Kansas and the state already signed compacts with four other tribes.

Chairman Berrey's statement in full follows:
“The Quapaw Tribe has had no choice but to file a legal challenge to Governor Brownback’s actions. The governor’s actions violate the mandates of federal law that states must (1) negotiate class III gaming compacts with Indian tribes, and (2) must negotiate in good faith. Governor Brownback has done neither.

“Governor Brownback actively encouraged the Quapaw Tribe to request a class III gaming compact, and then, solely to protect a state-owned casino that was proposed for Cherokee County from competition, stopped communicating with us. Federal law plainly requires a state to negotiate in good faith, and it does not permit a governor to refuse to negotiate simply to protect a state casino from competition.

“The Governor acted in bad faith in a number of ways, including by refusing to negotiate and by refusing to communicate after he changed his mind about the compact negotiations. Later, the State of Kansas filed a meritless suit against the Tribe and 18 tribal leaders and directors with no apparent purpose other than to serve as harassment and retaliation, and to discourage the Quapaw Tribe from pursuing its governmental rights under federal law.

“We would prefer not to be in the position of having to file this litigation. But we have to stand up for the rights of Indian tribes and for the rights of tribes under federal law.”

Get the Story:
Quapaw Tribe sues Kansas governor (The Miami News-Record 1/20)
Quapaw tribes sues Kansas in federal court seeking agreement to offer casino gambling in Kansas (The Joplin Globe 1/20)

Relevant Documents:
NIGC Indian Land Opinion For Site in Kansas (November 2014)

Related Stories:
Kansas appeals ruling in Quapaw Tribe casino expansion lawsuit (1/19)
Quapaw Tribe secures dismissal of lawsuit over casino site in Kansas (12/18)
Quapaw Tribe denies claim of work on Kansas casino expansion (08/05)
Quapaw Tribe casino expansion faces opposition from tribes (07/20)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition from Kansas commercial casino (06/24)
Quapaw Tribe requests dismissal of lawsuit over casino expansion (06/16)
Kansas seeks more time to respond in Quapaw Tribe casino case (6/5)
NIGC seeks dismissal of suit over Quapaw Tribe casino expansion (6/3)
John Berrey: Governor in Kansas turns back on Quapaw Tribe (5/19)
Kansas seeks injunction to stop Quapaw Tribe gaming expansion (4/17)
Quapaw Tribe promises fight to protect casino rights in Kansas (03/19)
Kansas sues over gaming land determination for Quapaw Tribe (03/10)
Quapaw Tribe slams casino expansion opposition as 'anti-Indian' (02/11)
County opposes expansion of Quapaw Tribe casino into Kansas (02/10)
Kansas attorney general questions Quapaw Tribe's gaming plans (12/10)
Quapaw Tribe to expand gaming facility into ancestral territory (12/05)