CHICKEN RANCH RANCHERIA V. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, No. 21-15751 (9th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Mewuk Indians (“tribes”) alleged that California violated Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”) by failing to act in good faith in the parties’ negotiations for compacts for the tribes to conduct high-stakes Las Vegas style casino gambling, known as Class III gaming. The district court concluded that California’s demand for tribal enforcement of state domestic support orders “pulled negotiations into a field wholly collateral to the operation of gaming facilities” and thus constituted “per se evidence of bad faith.” The district court concluded that other disputed provisions were “somewhat connected” to gaming and thus not a per se violation of the State’s good-faith duty, but California nevertheless was required to provide “meaningful concessions” in exchange for demanding these provisions, and the State’s failure to do so was a failure to negotiate in good faith, triggering IGRA’s remedial provisions.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed, on different grounds, the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the tribes. The court held that through its insistence on family law, environmental law, and tort provisions, California substantially exceeded IGRA’s limitation that any Class III compact provision be directly related to the operation of gaming activities. The court further held that when, as here, a State seeks to negotiate for compact provisions that fall well outside IGRA's seven permissible topics of negotiation, as set forth in an exhaustive list in 25 U.S.C. Section 2710(d)(3)(C), the State has not acted in good faith.