Wyandotte Tribe Triumphs in 30-Year Legal Battle Over Kansas Gaming Operations

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In a significant legal victory, the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma has been granted permission to proceed with gaming operations on a parcel of land in Kansas. The land in question has been at the center of a legal debate for more than 30 years.

The 10-acre Park City Parcel, located in Park City near Wichita, was purchased by the Wyandotte as a federal trust in 1992. It then became the subject of a contentious legal dispute that has now been resolved in the tribe’s favor by the Tenth Circuit U.S Court of Appeals.

“The Court affirmed the ruling that the Secretary was statutorily bound to take the Park City Parcel into trust and to allow a gaming operation there under IGRA’s settlement-of-a-land-claim exception,” said the court’s ruling.

The documents were filed on July 3, but were only recently made public. The Wyandotte already operate two casinos in Kansas, the Crosswinds Casino in Wichita and the 7th Street Casino in Kansas City (pictured).

Related: Our experts rate and review the best online casinos in Kansas right now

A Long-Standing Dispute

The 10-acre lot at the center of the dispute has sat vacant for 30 years as Kansas and the Wyandotte battled in the courts over trust status.

The Wyandotte Nation purchased the parcel of land back in 1992, with the intention of using it for gaming operations.

It used $25,000 of a $3 million federal compensation grant given to the Wyandotte in 1984, relating to broken treaties and ancestral land agreements.

However, Kansas objected to the tribe’s plan to use the land for a casino. It argued that this violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The tribe contested this interpretation, leading to a protracted legal battle. It applied for trust over the land in 1993 and again in 2008, but was rejected both times.

Now the 10th District Court has sided with a Kansas district court ruling from 2020.

It has ruled the US Department of Interior did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when it granted permission to the Wyandotte Tribe to use the land as a trust for gaming.

The state of Kansas had challenged this decision, arguing that the arrangement was blocked by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which stipulates that gaming must be located on tribal lands.

Now two separate Courts have backed the tribe’s right to gaming operations on the land.

“In 2020, the Secretary rejected the State’s arguments, approving the Tribe’s trust application and ruling that the Tribe could conduct gaming operations on the Park City Parcel. The district court agreed. And so do we,” the Appeals Court ruling said.

Rulings and Implications

The final decision in this case has significant implications for the future of tribal gaming in Kansas and potentially other states.

It affirms the right of tribes to use land purchased as a federal trust for gaming operations, potentially paving the way for other tribes to follow suit. The decision also underscores the autonomy of tribal nations in managing their own affairs, including their gaming operations

If and when the Wyandotte Tribe moves forward with its gaming operations on the contested land, it will undoubtedly be watched closely by other tribes, state governments, and the casino sector as a whole.

This news wasn’t the only ecent significant victory for tribal gaming operators in the US. This week, we reported on the D.C court ruling in favor of the US’ largest tribal gaming operator, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and its Hard Rock International hospitality and casino brand.

The court ruled that the Seminole’s latest gaming compact with the state of Florida does allow them to operate online sports betting in the state. It is a ruling that gives them a potential monopoly on regulated Florida sports betting, at least for now.

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