Tuesday, August 18, 2009

City to seek court injunction to uphold casino contract

Fond du Lac Casino on Superior Street in downtown Duluth.

The Fond du Lac Band has notified the City of Duluth of their intent to
immediately cease all payments to the City related to the operation of
the Fond du Luth Casino. The Casino has been operating since 1986
pursuant to the gaming rights agreements of 1986 and 1994 between the
Band and the City of Duluth. The Band contends that the agreements were
based on erroneous understandings and that the City’s consent to the
existence of reservation land within the city was not necessary in 1986.
The City strongly contests this position.

The City will seek a declaratory judgment from the Court upholding the
legal standing of the signed agreements. The City is confident that the
Court will find that this action by the Band has no legal standing and
will quickly uphold the agreement that exists today and that remains in
place until 2036.

“The Band has taken a direction contrary to our understanding of the
agreement and federal law. We would hope that the Band would choose to
seek clarification from the Court rather than attempt to abruptly and
unilaterally end the very foundation of their longstanding relationship
with the City under these agreements,” states Bob Maki, the City’s
legal counsel.

Over the past 25 years, these agreements have been thoroughly reviewed
and approved by the Fond du Lac Band, the City of Duluth, the U.S.
Secretary of the Interior, the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming
Commission and the Federal District Court for Minnesota.

“The City remains committed to the continuation of a respectful and
successful joint venture with the Fond du Lac Band,” said Mayor Don
Ness. “Once the legal standing of the agreement is confirmed we hope
to work with the Band towards a renewed success of the Casino in the
middle of Duluth’s downtown waterfront.”

The Band expressed what both parties saw as mutual and shared interests
in the very difficult days of the early 1980s in Duluth when, in the
words of the Band in 1994 before Congress, “In 1984, representatives
of the City and the Band came together to explore the possibility of
creating a joint relationship that would benefit the interest of both

Both the Band and the City have benefited from this joint venture over
the past 25 years. This success would not have been possible without
the agreement and cooperation of both parties.