Biden Administration Sides With Indian Tribes Over Texas in Gambling Dispute

The Ilani Casino, which is operated by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, is located near Ridgefield, Wash., on Aug. 2, 2020. (Steven Baltakatei Sandoval via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)
The Ilani Casino, which is operated by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, is located near Ridgefield, Wash., on Aug. 2, 2020. (Steven Baltakatei Sandoval via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Ilani Casino, which is operated by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, is located near Ridgefield, Wash., on Aug. 2, 2020. (Steven Baltakatei Sandoval via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0) The Biden administration is siding with two Native American tribes against Texas in a long-running dispute over the tribes’ right to run gaming operations on their tribal land in the state.

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court is known as Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo v. State of Texas. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled against the tribes, finding that the state was within its legal rights to bar gaming startups by the tribes. Gaming is an industry euphemism for gambling.

The tribes, the Tigua in El Paso and the Alabama–Coushatta Tribe of East Texas, are appealing the decision to the Supreme Court. It’s unclear when the court will decide if it will hear the case.

On Feb. 22, the Supreme Court invited the Biden administration to file a brief expressing its views on the case.

Half a year later, on Aug. 25, Acting Solicitor General Brian H. Fletcher filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

The Biden administration believes that it’s unfair that the two Texas tribes don’t have the same gaming rights that many other tribes around the nation already enjoy.

The Supreme Court should “correct the court of appeals’ erroneous construction of the [statute],” which has “impaired the uniformity of a federal regulatory scheme, has uniquely disadvantaged two Indian tribes, and has generated repeated litigation and substantial confusion for nearly […]

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