City Reacts to Federal Judge Ruling About Casino Battle

Ongoing Litigation Is Not Over Yet

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In the wake of a federal judge’s decision regarding the legal battle between the city of Duluth and the Fond du Lac Band over the Fond du Luth Casino, many questions remain.

What many people may not realize is that Tuesday’s decision dealt with litigation that didn’t directly involve the Fond du Lac Band.

This lawsuit was one the city of Duluth brought against the federal government, specifically the National Indian Gaming Commission, for their handling of the notice of violation, which the city says took away the benefits they were receiving from having the casino operations in Duluth.

“There have been benefits for the band, and there were benefits for the city. But those have now been taken away and all the benefits are flowing directly to the band,” explained Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson. “We don’t think that’s a fair way to handle a business arrangement like this, where one party receives all the benefit.”

Tribal leaders released a statement in response to Tuesday’s decision.

“The Fond du Lac band is pleased with this decision. It affirms that the agreements that required payments to the city were illegal under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The band has paid approximately $80 million to date to the city, far more than is required from other businesses for city services. Despite that, the band has repeatedly offered the city a fee to cover city services, which they have declined in favor of pursuing failed litigation attempts.”

This decision is not the end of the ongoing dispute.

The city has not yet decided whether it will appeal this latest decision.

Plus, there are still two outstanding cases.

One deals with a lease issue, not against the band, but the Department of Interior.

The second deals directly with the Fond du Lac Band over money the city believes it is still owed based on a 1994 agreement the band signed with the city to run the casino.

The band had been paying the city about $6 million a year, before stopping payments back in 2009.

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