The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma is asking a federal court to throw out a lawsuit naming them as co-defendants. The suit by Attorney General Derek Schmidt aims to block the tribe from expanding a casino on the border into Kansas.
The suit was originally filed against the National Indian Gaming Commission, but was later amended to include the tribe.
The tribe’s lawyers argue that tribal officials and entities cannot be sued because sovereign immunity precludes the action in this incidence.
“Congress has set forth a comprehensive structure for the regulation of gaming on Indian lands, which does not include granting states the authority to enjoin tribal gaming activities on Indian lands where no tribal-state compact is present and where no class III gaming is underway,” attorneys stated in the motion to dismiss.
The land in question, situated within Kansas borders, was entered into trust by the federal government in 2012. It is currently being used as a parking lot for Downstream Casino Resort. The tribe plans to expand their casino onto the plot and offer Class III games, which are not allowed in Oklahoma.
The issue becomes a bit more complicated as currently there is no gaming occurring on the property which has been used for its current purpose since it was taken into trust. There appears to be no case law that would allow the state to sue a tribe for something they have not built nor operated. Were the casino to offer Class III games like roulette, the state could sue them. States have no say in the matter of Class II games such as the electronic “bingo slots” offered now in the casino.