Minnesota cardroom levels RICO charges at three tribal casinos

Minnesota Cardrooms sue Tribal Casinos
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The fighting between Minnesota cardrooms and tribal casinos heated up even more this week thanks to a new lawsuit involving both parties.

Running Aces, a racetrack and cardroom in the state, filed a federal lawsuit in the Minnesota District Court alleging that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Prairie Island Indian Community are violating federal law by offering and marketing table games that are not included in the tribe’s DOI-approved federal compact with the state.

Suit alleges tribal casinos illegally offering some table games

In the complaint, Running Aces says the tribes are in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act by offering games like Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Three Card Poker and using mail, television and the internet to advertise the allegedly illegal gambling across state lines.

According to the complaint, none of the tribal gaming compacts include any card-related Class III table games save for blackjack.

The website for Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinkley note that the properties offer Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, Three Card Poker and Four Card Poker, referring to them as “Player Pool” games.

The suit notes that Minnesota law allows the cardrooms in the state exclusive rights to offer these games and contends that the tribes offering these options at nearby casinos are eating into the bottom lines at Running Aces.

The suit names nearly two dozen defendants including the tribes and several principals in the C-suite of these casinos. The marketing leaders are included in the suit because one of the five counts of RICO charges center on the casino marketing the alleged illegal gambling across state lines.

Suit follows legal action against Minnesota Gaming Commission

This suit comes a little over a week after the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community filed a state lawsuit against the Minnesota Gaming Commission challenging its recent decision to allow historical horse racing (HHR) machines at Canterbury Park and Running Aces.

That decision also resulted in a newly introduced bill from Rep. Zack Stephenson seeking to roll back both the HHR decision and the use of stadium-style gaming at state cardrooms. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has a pending lawsuit with the MGC on the stadium-style games as well.

The turf war over which venues can offer what games also spills over into the state’s efforts to legalize sports betting. Each year, numerous lawmakers put forth ideas for legalizing sports betting in the state with some offering licenses to tribes and state pro teams and others giving the right to offer sports betting to cardrooms.

During a hearing on Stephenson’s bill, lawmakers conceded there needs to be a solution that pleases all parties with some sort of compromise.