The Jamul Indians started construction of a mega-casino resort on their reservation land in San Diego but soon ran into opposition from a Christian church who objected to the casino stating that it was not being constructed on reservation land. The casino was proposed to have been constructed on 4.7 acres of land located twenty miles east of downtown San Diego, California.
The Jamul Indians planned to build a 203,000 square foot mega-casino which will be home to a minimum of 1,700 slot machines, 50 live table games and a number of posh restaurants. The tribe had big plans for the casino and expected to earn a significant portion of their revenue from the casino. The casino is expected to cost the Jamul Indians approximately $360 million in construction costs.
The Jamul Community Church along with the Jamul Action Committee filed a lawsuit in 2013 sued the Department of the Interior and National Indian Gaming Commission. The lawsuit contested the gaming commission report which certified that the Jamul Indian Village owned ‘Indian lands’ which allowed them to set up gambling operations as per the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The lawsuit contested the authority of the report stating that it was inaccurate and that the Jamul Indian Village did not have legal access to the land as it did not belong to the reservation and hence were not eligible to construct a casino.
On the 15th of May, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled in favour of the Jamul Indian Village starting that “The court is aware of no statute or regulation, and the parties have cited none, that would require the NIGC or BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] to review or approve a management contract before the subject casino is constructed or operated, or to approve construction at all. To the contrary, the IGRA implies the Tribe may construct and operate a casino on its own land without a management contract.”
The Jamul Action Committee board was disappointed with the court’s decision but promised not to take the defeat lying down. The JAC Board and the Jamul Community Church has confirmed that it will continue to fight the case and take it to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruling allows the Jamul Indian Village to resume construction on its casino which is scheduled to open before the end of 2015.