Supreme Court won't hear Pauma Band compact negotiation case

The Casino Pauma in Pauma Valley, California. Photo from Facebook

The U.S. Supreme Court won't be getting involved in a a gaming compact negotiation case between the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians and the state California.

Without comment, the justices on Monday denied petitions in California v. Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pauma and Yuima Reservation and Pauma Band of Mission Indians v. California. Their move affirms a divided opinion from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which held that the tribe was cheated into sharing more slot machine revenues with the state.

The October 2015 decision was a victory to the tribe on that front. The court ordered the state to repay $36.2 million for the ill-gotten revenues.

At the same time, the tribe wasn't able to force the state to come back to the negotiating table for a new agreement. A petition filed with the Supreme Court notes that its Class III gaming compact expires in four years and that further litigation could draw out the matter even longer.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Oral Arguments in Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission v. State of California

"After the state invariably demands tax payments in a creatively different manner than before, Pauma will then face the prospect of litigating a bad faith negotiation claim in the Ninth Circuit, where the typical lifespan of such a case ranges from six to eight years," the brief stated.

The state, on the other hand, remains on the hook for the $36.2 million payment. By denying the petition, the Supreme Court did not disturb the 9th Circuit's decision on that issue.

Historically, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act has been averse to tribal gaming. The last case that directly addressed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community from May 2014. Before that was Chickasaw Nation v. US in 2001.

During this term alone, the Supreme Court has declined to hear three IGRA cases: Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County v. Chaudhuri, Oklahoma v. Hobia and Wisconsin v. Ho-Chunk Nation.

Also on Monday, the justices denied petitions in Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Government v. NLRB and Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort v. NLRB. Although IGRA wasn't the main issue, both cases arose from the application of federal labor law at tribal casinos.

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission v. State of California (October 26, 2015)

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