Ore. - The state Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit
to block a new Indian casino on the Oregon coast, deflating
the hopes of anti-casino activists who thought they had
discovered a legal flaw in Oregon's tribal gaming rules.
opponents had argued that the governor couldn't sign a
gaming compact with a tribe because the state constitution
prohibits casino gambling.
aren't subject to state law, but many have signed agreements
with states to open casinos under the 1988 federal Indian
Gaming Act. The agreements, which cover such issues as
traffic rules and public safety, are in place in about
Oregon case targeted one of these agreements, following
a strategy that has proved successful in other states
and is gaining momentum as a legal tool for opponents
of Indian gaming across the country.
cases in New York, New Mexico and Kansas have been successful
in blocking casinos, said Alex Johnson, a New Mexico attorney
and an expert on Indian gaming law hired by the Oregon
group that filed the suit.
New York case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, but last
month justices said they wouldn't get involved in Indian
gaming disputes and that state courts would have to rule
on the legality of such compacts.
Oregon Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously dismissed
the legal action - a writ-of-mandamus request - without
comment, court clerk John Koskela said.
ruling, however, appeared to quash hopes of casino opponents
to legally block the 400-slot Three Rivers Casino and
convention center in Florence before construction is expected
to begin next year.
plans by the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Siuslaw
and Lower Umpqua Indians so angered residents in the 7,500-population
tourist and resort town on the Pacific coast that the
City Council voted this past spring to refuse water and
sewer service to the tribe.
tribe shot back that it would drill wells for water and
build a sewage system. Dueling pro-and anti-casino signs
popped up on U.S. 101 near the town.
Somday, administrator of the 700-member tribe, based in
Coos Bay, said many bars in Florence run mini-casinos
with video lottery machines, and that state statistics
show that residents are among the most prolific gamblers
in the state.
tribe considers gaming a right necessary for financial
security. It hired Las Vegas-based gambling developer
ROI to build and manage the 400-slot gaming floor, expected
to net $10 million to $12 million a year.