Redding Rancheria gets a second shot for casino at a larger site

Gaming machines at the Win-River Casino in California. Photo from Facebook

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed a mixed victory to the Redding Rancheria of California on Tuesday in a dispute over a new gaming site.

The tribe operates the Win-River Casino on a 2.5-acre site that were placed in trust after the restoration of federal recognition. The tribe now wants to move the facility to a much larger 232-acre site.

By a 2-1 vote, the 9th Circuit said the Bureau of Indian Affairs should consider that request. Barring further appeals, the agency must decide whether relocating the casino is allowed under its Section 20 regulations.

"Allowing a restored tribe to move a casino does not appear to conflict with the statutory purpose of ensuring parity among restored and established tribes," the court wrote. "Restored tribes, if allowed to operate an indefinite number of casinos on newly restored lands, would of course have an advantage over established tribes, but it is not clear that allowing restored tribes to move a casino to a different location would necessarily have the same effect."

But on a larger issue, the tribe did not prevail. By a unanimous vote, the court upheld a provision in the Section 20 regulations that limit how often a restored lands exception can be used.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does not impose any restrictions. But the Section 20 regulations -- which were developed by the Bush administration in the face of public and Congressional pressure -- state that the restored lands exception can only be used if a tribe is not currently operating a casino and if the land-into-trust application was filed within 25 years of recognition.

The Redding Rancheria was restored in 1983 as part of the Tillie Hardwick litigation. The land-into-trust application for the larger site was filed in 2003.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Redding Rancheria v. Jewell.

Get the Story:
Tribe's Bid for New Shasta Casino Revived (Courthouse News Service 1/20)

9th Circuit Decision:
Redding Rancheria v. Jewell (January 20, 2015)

Oral Arguments in Redding Rancheria v. Jewell:

DOI Indian Land Opinion:
Larry Echo Hawk Letter to Redding Rancheria (December 22, 2010)

Federal Register Notice for 2008 Section 20 Regulations:
Part I-IV | Part V | PDF

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9th Circuit rules in dispute over Redding Rancheria's gaming site (1/20)

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