The Chickasaw Nation owns and operates The Riverstar Casino in Terral, Oklahoma. Photo: The Riverstar Casino

Comanche Nation asks Supreme Court to hear dispute over rival tribe's casino

The Comanche Nation is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a dispute affecting a rival tribe's gaming facility in Oklahoma.

The tribe contends the Chickasaw Nation should not have been able to open a new casino on land that was recently placed in trust. A petition asking the justices to accept the case was filed on March 14.

"The Comanche had no choice but to bring this challenge," the filing states. "The Chickasaw Nation already has two dozen casinos bringing in more than a billion dollars a year. It is setting up yet another casino at Terral, Oklahoma, less than 45 miles down river from the Comanche Red River Hotel and Casino at Devol."

The Comanche Nation's pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals essentially said there was no case last December, after a federal judge refused to block the new casino from opening.

Indianz.Com on Google Maps: Chickasaw Nation Gaming Facilities

The Chickasaw Nation opened the RiverStar Casino in March 2018. It's located in Terral, just a few miles from the Texas border, a major gaming market that the Comanche Nation also depends on for its Red River Hotel and Casino.

"The operation at Devol is the economic lifeline of the Comanche Nation: The sixty million dollars in net annual revenue that flow from the Red River Hotel and Casino – just 6% of the yearly take from Chickasaw’s several dozen operations – is more than 60% of the funds necessary for the Comanche to sustain vital tribal operations and social service programs."

The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the land-into-trust application for the casino on the last full day of the Obama administration in January 2017. Indianz.Com published the deed from the acquisition around that time.

But the Trump administration held up the official notice of the acquisition until July 2017. That didn't stop the Chickasaws from breaking ground on the project before securing formal approval for the casino.

Generally, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act bars casinos on land placed in trust after 1988. But an exception in Section 20 of the law allows gaming on properties located within the boundaries a former reservation in Oklahoma.

According to the BIA, the site in Terral qualifies for such an exception. The Comanches, however, contend the Chickasaws never exercised jurisdiction over the land as required by IGRA.

"The latest acquisition for the benefit of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma - a tribe already operating approximately two dozen post 1988 gaming operations to the tune of a billion dollars annually - is an existential threat to the economic lifeline of the Comanche Nation, the Red River Hotel and Casino at Devol, Oklahoma," the petition states.

The Chickasaw Nation operates nearly two dozens casinos, more than any other tribe in Oklahoma and more than any other tribe in the United States.

The federal government's response is due May 2, according to Docket No. 18-1261.

10th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision
Comanche Nation v. Zinke (December 14, 2018)

Federal Register Notices
Land Acquisitions; The Chickasaw Nation [Terral Site] (July 18, 2017)
Land Acquisitions; The Chickasaw Nation [Willis Site] (July 18, 2017)

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