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Idaho v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 22, 2015

STATE OF IDAHO, a sovereign State of the United States, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
COEUR D'ALENE TRIBE, a federally recognized Indian tribe, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted April 6, 2015, Seattle, Washington

Page 1040

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho. D.C. No. 2:14-cv-00170-BLW. B. Lynn Winmill, Chief District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY [*]

Indian Gaming Regulatory Act / Preliminary Injunction

The panel affirmed (1) the district court's denial of a motion to dismiss the State of Idaho's action alleging that the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's offering of Texas Hold'em poker violated a Tribal-State Gaming Compact entered into under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and (2) the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction.

The panel held that IGRA severed tribal sovereign immunity because Texas Hold'em was explicitly prohibited by Idaho law and therefore was " Class III" gaming under 25 U.S.C. § 2710(d)(7)(A)(ii). The panel rejected the argument that IGRA did not abrogate tribal immunity because the Compact encompassed only a subset of Class III gaming.

The panel held that venue was proper because the Compact permitted litigation as well as arbitration of disputes.

The panel concluded that its immunity analysis determined that Idaho was likely to succeed on the merits. The district court did not err in determining that the State would likely suffer irreparable harm to its economic and public policy interests if the Tribe were not enjoined from offering Texas Hold'em in violation of IGRA and the Compact. The district court did not err in finding that the balance of hardships tipped decidedly in the State's favor and that the public interest supported granting injunctive relief. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the district court's order preliminarily enjoining the Tribe from offering Texas Hold'em.

Joseph H. Webster (argued) and F. Michael Willis, Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP, Washington, D.C.; Howard Funke and Kinzo Mihara, Howard Funke & Associates, PC, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for Defendant-Appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Steven L. Olsen, Chief of Civil Litigation, Clay R. Smith (argued) and Tim A. Davis, Deputy Attorneys General, Boise, Idaho; Cally A. Younger, Office of the Governor, Boise, Idaho, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Scott D. Crowell and Bruce Didesch, Crowell Law Offices, Tribal Advocacy Group, Sedona, Arizona; William Bacon, Office of the Reservation Attorney, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, General Counsel, Fort Hall, Idaho, for Amicus Curiae Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

Before: Michael Daly Hawkins, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, and Consuelo M. Callahan, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Hawkins.

OPINION

Page 1041

Michael Daly HAWKINS, Circuit Judge:

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe (" Tribe" ) appeals the preliminary injunction prohibiting the Tribe from offering Texas Hold'em (" Hold'em" ) poker. The Tribe argues that tribal sovereign immunity was not abrogated and that venue was improper under the terms of the Tribal-State Gaming Compact (" Compact" ). We affirm because the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (" IGRA" ) severed tribal immunity and the Compact did not bar the litigation. Lastly, we affirm the grant of ...


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