Racetrack Amends Suit, Says Law Prohibits Tribal Gambling Monopoly

Written By Dan Holmes on May 16, 2024 - Last Updated on May 17, 2024
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Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Racetrack has significantly ramped up its federal lawsuit against tribal-owned casinos in Minnesota.

The amended suit now claims that federal law prohibits tribes from having exclusive rights over gambling operations. It also argues that two casinos added to the lawsuit are violating state law by offering video games of chance.

It’s the latest salvo in the long battle between Native American tribes and horse racetracks in the state that has spilled over to efforts at legalizing Minnesota sports betting.

Amended Suit Targets Tribe Which Sued Minnesota Gaming Commission

Running Aces filed the original lawsuit on April 16 against Grand Casino Hinckley, Grand Casino Mille Lacs, and Treasure Island Resort & Casino. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe owns the Grand Casinos and the Prairie Island Indian Community owns Treasure Island.

The RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) suit claimed the tribal-owned casinos offered Class III card games beyond blackjack, violating their compact with the state.

The amended lawsuit claims that two other casinos in the state – Mystic Lake and Little Six Casinos – are prohibited by Minnesota law from offering Class II video slots and other video games. The suit says the tribal casinos offering the prohibited games have “illegal and unfair advantages.”

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community owns both casinos. That tribe sued the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC) earlier this year after it approved 500 historical horse racing machines at the state’s two horse racetracks, including Running Aces.

Running Aces President Claims Tribes Don’t Have Exclusive Gaming Right

In a written statement, Running Aces President and CEO Taro Ito said the racetrack seeks equal treatment.

“For decades, tribal casinos and certain politicians have been falsely perpetuating that they are entitled to an exclusive right on gaming in the state of Minnesota, including electronic video games of chance. To the contrary, under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, which is a federal law, such an exclusive right is in fact prohibited.

“Current Minnesota law specifically prohibits and makes illegal the playing of electronic video games of chance for any person. All that we have ever sought was to be treated fairly, compete on a level playing field, take advantage of improvements within the pari-mutuel environment, and operate without fear of being eliminated. It is our sincere desire to have our day in court and let the facts determine the outcome.”

Throughout the legislative efforts, Running Aces vocalized its desire to offer sports betting at its facility. Current legislation gives tribes exclusivity over sports betting. Instead, it provides the MRC with a portion of the sports betting proceeds to distribute to racetracks.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes writes about sports betting, sports media, and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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