Jamul Action Committee
Jamul Action Committee Jamul Action Committee

Legal Update April 4, 2017

On March 8, 2017, the Jamul Action Committee, Jamul Community Church and several residents of Jamul, filed their Opening Brief with the Ninth Circuit challenging the District Court’s dismissal of their lawsuit last August. This summary outlines the status of the case and the context of JAC’s appeal.

The casino, known as the “Hollywood Casino-Jamul,” opened in August, 2016. It was built on four parcels of land which the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) and the Jamul Indian Village (JIV) claim is a “reservation” eligible for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The casino was developed, and is operated, by Penn National Gaming which owns 26 casinos in 18 states, 12 of them called “Hollywood Casino.”

JAC initiated this lawsuit in 2013 after the NIGC, in a published notice, determined that the casino was to be “reconfigured” and located entirely on a “reservation” which qualifies as ‘Indian Lands’ eligible for gaming. Although this lawsuit was filed over three years ago, the NIGC still has not provided any documents to support its claim that the casino is on a “reservation.” The NIGC did not provide such documentation because it simply does not exist. In contrast, the title record, which JAC collected and presented to the district court, establishes that none of the four parcels, on which the Hollywood Casino is constructed is Indian Land as defined in IGRA.The four properties include:

  1. Daley Parcel – Most of the casino is constructed on this 4.66 acre parcel. It was conveyed by the Daleys to the U.S. in 1978 for the benefit of individual half-blood (legal term) Jamul Indians. But it was never taken into trust by the Secretary of Interior for the benefit of the JIV. Nor was it ever proclaimed by the Secretary to be a new Indian reservation.
  2. Daisy Driveway Parcel – The elevated driveway into the casino parking lot and grand entrance is constructed on this 4 acre triangle shaped parcel. It is currently owned by the JIV in fee. There have been at least two failed attempts in the past by the JIV to have this parcel taken into trust. It is not a reservation or trust land eligible for Indian gaming.
  3. Indian Graveyard Access – This parcel is used, in part, for casino access. It is a 1.372 acre parcel that was conveyed to the U.S. in 1982 for the benefit of the JIV “for an Indian graveyard and approach thereto.” But it was never taken into trust and is not a reservation. And case law confirms that Indian cemetery property cannot be used for an Indian casino.
  4. Soil Nail Wall Easement – This easement is on the adjacent wildlife refuge property. It was acquired by Penn National in 2014 to construct a “soil nail wall” to support the casino. It is not on a reservation or trust land. Construction site pictures of the massive soil nail wall were recently posted by the contractor PB&A Inc. (www.pbandainc.com/projects.)

JAC scheduled a motion for summary judgement on the Indian lands issue for March 11, 2016, the same day that the Defendants had set their motions to dismiss. But, on March 3, 2016, at the request of the Defendants, the court stayed JAC’s motion, while allowing the Defendants’ motions to continue.

The court heard the motions to dismiss on April 22, 2016. And during oral argument, in response to a question from the Court, JAC confirmed that they are still challenging the JIV and NIGC claim that the casino is on a “reservation.” And JAC again urged the court to consider JAC’s motion for summary judgement.

On August 8, 2016, the district court issued its Order granting defendants’ motions to dismiss. Despite JAC’s urging, the district court did not directly address JAC’s motion for summary judgment on the Indian lands issue. JAC filed a Notice of Appeal on August 15, 2016. (ER 1.) JAC is appealing all aspects of the court’s Order including the related Order to stay, and not decide, JAC’s motion.

This litigation was triggered by the undisputed fact that, despite the NIGC’s claim, none of the four parcels on which the casino is located is an Indian Reservation eligible for gaming under the IGRA. Instead, JAC continues to argue that under California’s Constitution and law, the casino is an illegal, continuing public nuisance which is destroying the Jamul environment and community. It should be abated.

Please support JAC with your donation to our legal fund. Please send your donations to:
P.O. Box 1317
Jamul, CA 91935

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