December 7, 2021 Casino, Tribal, Legal

Supreme Court rejects hearing case against Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego

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The move is likely to be the final legal challenge against the casino by the local community.

Another nail was slammed into the coffin of the California case of the rural community of Jamul versus the Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego after the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case of the local community against the tribal casino. 

The band of rural objectors to the casino – known as the Jamul Action Community (JAC) – had contended that the right to build a casino was granted not to a tribe based on biological race but to a ‘modern tribal association,’ and that, therefore, in granting the license, the government had broken the law.  

The Hollywood Casino is worth about $400m. This will likely be the final legal challenge from JAC. 

This was not the JAC’s first hearing on the matter before the Supreme Court, and, though the earlier one had been denied, they had felt they might have a fighting chance after an October decision of the Court – Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation – which had designated Alaska Native corporations as tribes in the eyes of the CARES Act.  

JAC had argued that the ruling held “that the use of the term ‘recognized’ with respect to Indian tribes is not a ‘term of art’ that equates with ‘federally recognized tribes.’” 

This was a sticking point as last year, before the Ninth Circuit Court (which covers the western region of the United States), claims by JAC that the casino does not fall under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act because it is owned by a “half-blood Indian association organized in 1981” and did not equate to their notions of a racially pure tribe that predated the advent of American colonization.  

The three-judge Ninth Court shut down this notion by maintaining that, in the eyes of federal law, there is no distinction between historical tribes and newer tribal entities.  

As the panel of justices wrote: “Today, the village enjoys the same privileges and immunities as other federally recognized Indian tribes, including tribal sovereign immunity.” 

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