Court says it lacks jurisdiction in casino licensing case

By Gabriel Neves | Dec 27, 2018

LOS ANGELES — A gaming management company alleging that a Native American tribe breached a contract while developing a new casino in Fresno has suffered a loss in court.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder, on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, issued a 16-page ruling on Dec. 17 dismissing the claims of a first amended complaint in the lawsuit, filed by Brownstone against Big Sandy Rancheria of Western Mono Indians.

"After a five-month selection process, plaintiff alleges that it was selected by the Tribe to provide expertise in developing a large, Class III gaming facility" that would be "a 413,000 square foot destination resort in Fresno, Calif., which would include a 300-room hotel, a 185,000 square-foot casino, and more," the ruling said.

The parties entered into agreements regarding the execution and the financing of the projects, but there were multiple setback, it said.

"The tribe’s counsel failed to amend the Compact, as necessary to develop the Project, with the California Governor’s office," according to the ruling. Other issues, such as environmental licensing, delayed the project further, causing financial partner Guggenheim Partners to abandon the funding for the gaming center.

Despite provisions of the California Tribal Compact stating that a Class III gaming facility should be licensed, Brownstone stated, per the ruling, that "the parties agreed that licensing was unnecessary for the Credit Agreement and the Development Agreement because those agreements only contracted plaintiff to perform certain services before any gaming operations occurred."

The tribe consulted the National Indian Gaming Commission for an opinion, and the commission advised the tribe that Brownstone should be licensed, as stated in the compact.

In her ruling, Judge Snyder dismissed Brownstone's claims, and stated that the district court "lacks jurisdiction over the matter," given that the claims did not arise under federal law.

Snyder also ordered Brownstone to filed an amended complaint within 30 days.

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Case number 2:16-cv-04170-CAS-AGR

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