Federal appeals court allows Cayuga Nation to operate Class II gaming parlor in Union Springs

Federal appeals court allows Cayuga Nation to operate Class II gaming parlor in Union Springs

Native American tribe Cayuga Nation scored a major legal victory earlier this week when a federal appeals court ruled that the tribe could operate a Class II gaming parlor in Union Springs, New York.

Cayuga Nation sued an upstate New York village after local authorities didn’t allow it to operate its Lakeside Entertainment gaming facility after its renovation.

Pronouncing the ruling, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s March 2020 ruling, which determined that the tribe was operating its gaming facility on its sovereign territory, noting that the federal tribal gaming law superseded the ordinance passed by Union Springs.

Lakeside Entertainment was acquired by the tribe in the Finger Lakes community, which is located roughly 30 miles southwest of Syracuse, in 2003. The tribe renovated the facility, and tried to operate a gaming center there. But, local authorities didn’t allow them to do that.

Leaders of the tribe filed a lawsuit, arguing that federal law allows them to operate Class II gaming facility on their sovereign territory. The tribe’s lawyers argued in the court that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’s (IGRA’s) 1988 law allow tribes to operate gaming facilities on sovereign lands. They also pointed out that the Union Springs games-of-chance ordinance became obsolete as it was established decades ago in 1958.

U.S. Circuit Judge Gerard E. Lynch, who presided over the case with Judge Amalya Kearse and Judge Denny Chin, ruled that the tribe could operate its Class II gaming parlor in Union Springs because the federal law covers “all lands” on a nation’s sovereign territory. He added that he Cayuga Nation’s reservation hasn’t been rescinded, and the gaming property in question is within the documented boundaries.

Clint Halftown, the federally-recognized Cayuga Nation Tribe’s leader and federal representative, welcomed the ruling, and described it as a “great victory’ for the tribe and its members.

When asked for a comment on the ruling, he said, “Sovereignty is the bedrock of the relationship between federally recognized Native American nations like ours and the state and local governments with whom we must interact.”

However, the recent ruling didn’t mark end of the legal dispute as Union Springs’ Mayor, Bud Shattuck, has declared that the town was considering asking the federal court to review the case.