Jamul Indian Village sees favorable ruling on gaming ordinance

The $400 million Hollywood Casino is rising on the Jamul Indian Village near San Diego, California. Photo courtesy Jamul Indian Village

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the National Indian Gaming Commission in a dispute affecting the Jamul Indian Village in California.

Opponents of the $400 million Hollywood Casino Jamul that's under construction on the reservation sued the NIGC for approving the tribe's gaming ordinance. They argued that the National Environmental Policy Act required the agency to prepare an environmental impact statement before taking action.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit disagreed. The NIGC was not required to prepare the statement -- a typically lengthy process -- because doing so would create an "irreconcilable conflict" with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the court determined.

IGRA requires the agency to approve an ordinance within 90 days so long as it meets the conditions of the law. An EIS on the other hand could take years to resolve.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Oral Arguments in Jamul Action Committee v. Jonodev Chaudhuri

"There is no question that it would be impossible for NIGC to prepare an EIS in the ninety days it has to approve a gaming ordinance," Judge Morgan Christen wrote in the 16-page decision.

The tribe was not a party to the lawsuit but the decision highlights the hurdles it has taken to secure approval for the casino. The NIGC in fact has yet to make a decision on a gaming management contract for the facility despite a lengthy environmental impact review.

The tribe and its partner, Penn National Gaming, expect to open the casino sometime this summer. If the contract isn't approved by then, the NIGC has said the tribe will run the facility.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Jamul Action Committee v. Jonodev Chaudhuri.

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Jamul Action Committee v. Jonodev Chaudhuri (June 9, 2016)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Availability of a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Jamul Indian Village Proposed Gaming Management Agreement, San Diego County, California (March 14, 2016)

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