Graton Casino Faces Renewed Legal Challenge
10/03/2013 (press release: StopGratonCasino) // Rohnert Park, CA, USA // Marilee Montgomery
Stop Graton Casino (formerly Stop the Casino 101 Coalition) has announced that it will appeal the grant of summary judgment to the Governor on its lawsuit challenging the Graton compact, Stop the Casino 101 Coalition et al v. Edmund G. Brown.
In August, the trial court ruled that the tribe has fulfilled all the requisites for a gaming compact, but did not respond to the arguments Stop Graton Casino made.
Stop Graton Casino showed that one of the requisites is who has jurisdiction over the site? This is recited seven times in the statute. The judge failed to list the requisites or even to indicate if he agreed or disagreed whether jurisdiction over the site is a requisite.
Stop Graton Casino also demonstrated to the court that the widely-spread assumption that once the Graton Rancheria had title to the casino site, they automatically obtained jurisdiction, was incorrect and that the only way for the Graton Rancheria to obtain jurisdiction was if and when the State of California ceded sovereignty t o the federal government with a legislative act voted on by both the State Senate and Assembly. The judge did not address that.
Under federal and state law, a tribe must have legal jurisdiction over a casino site before it is eligible for gambling activities. Since the State did not cede sovereignty over the Graton casino site, the land is still state land, and casino-style gambling is illegal on state land.
“We are asking only that the court enforce the law. “ said Chip Worthington, Rohnert Park resident and leader of the casino opposition. “The Graton casino has not satisfied either federal or state law. That casino site is still governed by state law and the casino is illegal.”
It is not too late to shut down the Graton Casino. Other communities around the country have gone to court and successfully closed illegal casinos after they were operating:
2002: A court stopped the Tiqua casino in Texas; it has never reopened.
2010: A court stopped the Bay Mills casino in Michigan from operating.
2012: A court shut down the Kialigee casino in Oklahoma.
2013: In August, the Tahlequah casino in Oklahoma was closed after operating illegally
for almost three decades.
In all these casino cases, like in ours here, the issue was whether Indian gaming was legal on the land on which the casino was operating. The myth spread by casino developers is that when the federal government takes land into trust for an Indian tribe, the Indians are not subject to state laws. But that is not the law!
The law says that if state law governed the site before the land was taken into trust, state law governs the site after the land is taken into trust. The land remains subject to state law.
We filed the lawsuit at the earliest opportunity and invited Graton Rancheria to participate in the lawsuit. Graton Rancheria declined and decided to proceed with construction, create facts on the ground, and dare the courts to shut them down.
Now, if we win, they will have to close. And it won’t be the first time an Indian casino was closed after being constructed and commencing operation.
Since August 2003, our grassroots coalition has been fighting to Stop the Graton Casino. The 320,000 square-foot Graton Casino development is illegal under state law, and will destroy Sonoma County’s unique way of life.
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