On June 23, Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court agreed with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s interpretation of the 1992 gaming compact between the Tribe and the State of Idaho and denied the state’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop poker at the Coeur d’Alene Casino.
“The Court finds that Article 21 of the Compact unambiguously prohibits the state from filing a lawsuit within the 60-day period. The State’s position to the contrary is unreasonable…”, stated Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill in his decision. “For now, the Court will stay the lawsuit because the parties are within the 60-day period in which the Compact unambiguously prohibits the state from filing this lawsuit.”
Article 21 of the gaming compact governs dispute resolution and states that both parties agree to resolve disagreements through arbitration.
Both parties have 60 days in which to invoke arbitration when a conflict comes up and according to Winmill’s decision, the party that invokes arbitration cannot sue the other party. The state notified the Tribe of its grievance on May 1, one day before the Tribe began officially offering Texas Hold ‘Em style poker tournaments at its casino on May 2. The State of Idaho ignored the dispute resolution provisions of the gaming compact and instead filed its lawsuit on May 2.
“The Court agreed with our interpretation of the gaming compact and reinforced what we’ve been saying all along; that the State jumped the gun and violated the provisions of our agreement when it raced to the courthouse with this unnecessary lawsuit. We believe we have a legal right to offer poker,” said tribal attorney Eric Van Orden. “We’re pleased with the court’s initial ruling and we hope the State will try to approach these types of issues in a more productive manner moving forward,” he added.