Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Gaming Law
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The case involves two casino operators, PNK (Baton Rouge) Partnership, PNK Development 8 LLC, PNK Development 9 LLC, and Centroplex Centre Convention Hotel, LLC, who incentivize their patrons with rewards, including complimentary hotel stays. The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge Department of Finance and Linda Hunt, its director, discovered through an audit that the operators had not remitted state and local taxes associated with these complimentary stays for several years. The City argued that the operators needed to pay these taxes, while the operators presented various arguments as to why they did not. The City filed a lawsuit in state court, which the operators removed to federal court on diversity jurisdiction grounds.The operators' removal of the case to federal court was challenged by the City, which argued that the tax abstention doctrine (TAD) warranted abstention in this case. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana agreed with the City, finding that all five TAD factors favored abstention: Louisiana's wide regulatory latitude over its taxation structure, the lack of heightened federal court scrutiny required by the operators' due process rights invocation, the potential for the operators to seek an improved competitive position in the federal court system, the greater familiarity of Louisiana courts with the state's tax regime and legislative intent, and the constraints on remedies available in federal court due to the Tax Injunction Act.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision. The Appeals Court found that the District Court had correctly applied the TAD and had not abused its discretion in deciding to abstain. The Appeals Court agreed that all five TAD factors favored abstention and that any doubt about the propriety of removal should be resolved in favor of remand. View "City of Baton Rouge v. PNK" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around Stephen Wynn, a casino owner and real estate developer, who was accused by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the People's Republic of China in 2017. The DOJ alleged that Wynn lobbied then-President Trump and his administration on behalf of China to cancel a certain Chinese businessperson's visa or to otherwise remove that person from the United States. Wynn's lobbying efforts ceased in October 2017, and he never registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).The DOJ sued Wynn in 2022, seeking to compel him to register as a foreign agent under FARA. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that since Wynn's alleged agency relationship with the Chinese government ended in October 2017, FARA no longer required him to register.The DOJ appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The appellate court affirmed the district court's decision, holding that under the precedent set by United States v. McGoff, Wynn's obligation to register under FARA expired when he ceased acting as a foreign agent. The court rejected the DOJ's argument that the civil enforcement provision of FARA allowed for an injunction to compel compliance for past violations, stating that the provision only applies to ongoing or imminent violations. Therefore, the court concluded that there was no legal basis for the government to compel Wynn to register now. View "Attorney General v. Wynn" on Justia Law

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The case involves Sutter’s Place, Inc., a cardroom operator in San Jose, California, and the California Gambling Control Commission. Sutter’s Place sought to increase the number of gambling tables in its cardroom from 49 to 64. The request was based on a local ballot measure, Measure H, which was approved by San Jose voters. However, the Commission denied the application, arguing that Measure H did not comply with the requirements of the Gambling Control Act (GCA), specifically a provision governing the text of local ballot measures authorizing expansions of gambling. The Commission's decision was upheld by the San Francisco County Superior Court.Previously, the Commission had denied Sutter’s application for more tables, concluding that the San Jose ballot measure authorizing the increase did not comply with the GCA. The superior court denied writ relief, and Sutter appealed. The appellate court affirmed the lower court's decision, rejecting Sutter's arguments that recent state legislation validated San Jose’s ordinance and abrogated the Commission’s decision denying permission to expand.In the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Sutter argued that the Commission lacked authority to deny a gambling expansion application on the ground that a local authorizing measure fails to comply with state law. However, the court rejected each argument and concluded that the trial court did not err in denying Sutter’s writ petition. The court held that the Commission had the authority to refuse an application that conflicted with state law. The court also found that Measure H did not substantially comply with the GCA's requirements for ballot language. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court's decision. View "Sutter's Place, Inc. v. California Gambling Control Commission" on Justia Law

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This case concerns a petition for a writ of mandamus filed by various users of the PredictIt platform against the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. The petitioners challenged the district court's decision to transfer their lawsuit against the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.).PredictIt is an online platform that allows users to trade on the predicted outcomes of political events. In 2022, the CFTC Division of Market Oversight rescinded a “no-action” letter it issued to PredictIt's operator, Victoria University, in 2014. The petitioners, claiming injury from the CFTC's decision, filed a lawsuit against the CFTC alleging that the agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and withdrew a license without following necessary procedural steps.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the district court abused its discretion by transferring the case to D.D.C. based primarily on court congestion. The appellate court noted that none of the factors used to evaluate whether a case should be transferred under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) favored the CFTC's chosen venue of D.D.C. The court also pointed out that the district court's decision had implications beyond the immediate case due to the supervisory nature of writs of mandamus. Consequently, the petition for a writ of mandamus was granted, and the district court was directed to request the return of the case from D.D.C. View "In Re: Kevin Clarke" on Justia Law

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In Pennsylvania, a group of casinos, including Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, and Chester Downs and Marina, LLC, sued the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. The casinos claimed that online games offered by the state lottery simulated slot machines, violating restrictions imposed by the state legislature and infringing on the casinos' share of the online market. The Commonwealth Court disagreed and dismissed their complaint.Upon appeal, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania found that the Commonwealth Court erred in its interpretation of the law by focusing on individual components of an online lottery game. The Supreme Court held that determining whether an online lottery game violates the prohibition against simulating a slot machine requires a subjective assessment of the game's overall appearance and effect when in play.The Supreme Court vacated the order of the Commonwealth Court and remanded the case for further proceedings, instructing the lower court to focus on the overall presentation and effect of the challenged game, not on individual features. View "Greenwood Gaming v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that an agreement entered into between Plaintiff Anthony Gattineri and Defendants Wynn MA, LLC and Wynn Resorts, Limited (collectively, Wynn) in San Diego California (the San Diego agreement) was unenforceable for reasons of public policy.Wynn entered into an option contract with FBT Everett Realty, LLC (FBT) to purchase a parcel of property. As Wynn's application for a casino license proceeded, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission discovered that there was a possibility of concealed ownership interests in FBT by a convicted felon with organized crime connections. In response, FBT lowered the purchase price for the parcel. The Commission approved the amended option agreement. Gattineri, a minority owner of FBT, opposed the price reduction and refused to sign the certificate required by the Commission. Gattineri alleged that at the San Diego meeting Wynn had agreed to pay Gattineri an additional $19 million in exchange for Gattineri signing the certificate. After the Commission awarded Wynn a casino license Gattineri brought suit claiming breach of the San Diego agreement because Wynn never paid Gattineri the promised $19 million. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the agreement was deliberately concealed from the Commission and inconsistent with the terms approved by the Commission; and (2) enforcement of such a secret agreement constituted a clear violation of public policy. View "Gattineri v. Wynn MA, LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal related to "electronic-bingo" operations conducted by the Department of Alabama Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States ("the VFW") at some of its Alabama posts. Travis Whaley and Randall Lovvorn contracted with the VFW to superintend and promote its electronic-bingo operations. Between 1997 and 2013, Whaley served the VFW as adjutant, commander, and quartermaster at different times. For his part, Lovvorn served as the VFW's accountant. The VFW contracted with G2 Operations, Inc. ("G2"), to conduct its electronic-bingo operations. Under contract, G2 agreed to conduct electronic-bingo operations at VFW posts throughout Alabama, and the VFW would receive 10% of the gross revenue. All the proceeds from electronic bingo were deposited into a VFW bank account. The VFW also entered into contracts with Whaley and Lovvorn, assigning them specific roles in its electronic-bingo operations. Several years later, after being notified of a tax penalty from the IRS, the VFW discovered a shortfall of $1,782,368.88 from what it should have received under its contracts with G2. The VFW filed a complaint asserting claims against G2 as well as additional claims against other parties, which were eventually whittled down throughout litigation until only claims against Whaley and Lovvorn remained. A jury reached a verdict against Whaley and Lovvorn on VFW's claims of breach of contract, fraudulent suppression, and conversion, awarding $1,782,368.88 in compensatory damages and $2,000,000 in punitive damages. Because the VFW's claims rely upon its own involvement in illegal transactions, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment and rendered judgment in favor of Whaley and Lovvorn. View "Whaley, et al. v. Dept. of Alabama Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the Arkansas Racing Commission's (ARC) decision to award the Pope County casino license to Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC (CNB) and Legends Resort and Casino, LLC (Legends) was a "legal nullity, void and of no effect," holding that the circuit court did not err.In this third iteration of appeals involving the issuance of the license Gulfside Casino Partnership (Gulfside) argued that the ARC's action was ultra vires because it was issued in violation of the clear language of amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Gulfside, concluding that the casino license issued by the ARC jointly to CNB and Legends was an ultra vires action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in its decision. View "Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC v. Gulfside Casino Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court setting aside Resolution 2077, which was adopted by the Campbell County Board of Commissioners in 2021, holding that there was no error.Resolution 2077 "revoked and superseded" previous resolutions approving Petitioners - Wyoming Horse Racing, LLC and Wyoming Downs, LLC - to conduct simulcast operations under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 11-25-102(a)(vii)(B) and placed conditions on all future approvals. Petitioners filed a petition for judicial review, arguing that the resolution exceeded the statutory authority of Campbell County under the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 11-25-101 et seq. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the County had authority under the Pari-Mutuel Act to revoke its prior approvals of Petitioners' simulcast operations. View "Campbell County Bd. of Commissioners v. Wyo. Horse Racing, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2017, the State of Alabama sued, among others, Epic Tech, LLC ("Epic Tech"); K.C. Economic Development, LLC, d/b/a VictoryLand ("KCED"); and Sheriff Andre Brunson, in his official capacity as sheriff of Macon County (referred to collectively as "the Macon County defendants"). At around that same time, the State sued, White Hall Enrichment Advancement Team d/b/a Southern Star Entertainment ("Southern Star") and White Hall (referred to collectively as "the Lowndes County defendants"). In each action, the State sought an order declaring the illegal gambling operations conducted by the defendants to be a public nuisance and related injunctive relief. The State's complaint in each action was also accompanied by a motion seeking the entry of an order preliminarily enjoining the defendants from engaging in illegal gambling operations. In case nos. 1200798 and 1210064, the State appealed Macon Circuit Court and Lowndes Circuit Court orders denying the State's requests for injunctive relief. In case no. 1210122, defendants/counterclaim plaintiffs White Hall Entertainment and the White Hall Town Council (referred to collectively as "White Hall"), cross-appealed the Lowndes Circuit Court's order dismissing their counterclaims against the State. The Alabama Supreme Court consolidated these appeals. In case no. 1200798, the Court reversed the Macon Circuit Court order denying the State's request for preliminary injunctive relief and remanded the matter for that court to enter, within 30 days, a preliminary injunction enjoining the defendants' gambling operations in Macon County; in case no. 1210064, the Court reversed the Lowndes Circuit Court order denying the State's request for permanent injunctive relief and remanded the matter for that court to enter, within 30 days, a permanent injunction enjoining the defendants' gambling operations in Lowndes County; and in case no. 1210122, the Court affirmed the Lowndes Circuit Court's order dismissing White Hall's counterclaims. View "White Hall Entertainment, et al. v. Alabama" on Justia Law