Coeur d’Alene Tribe officials said late this afternoon that the state never told them it was filing a lawsuit against the tribe, and they've not yet been served with the suit. “We found out from your blog,” tribal legislative liaison Helo Hancock said. “It’s frustrating to have to learn in that manner. This lawsuit is completely unnecessary.”
Tribal Chairman Chief Allan said, “We believe we are well within our right to offer poker. If the state has a problem with our legal analyses, they can invoke dispute resolution under our gaming compact – that’s why we have it – so we can negotiate our differences in a professional setting.” You can read my updated full story here at spokesman.com.
Hancock said, “We thought we were going to discuss this on a government-to-government basis as the compact contemplates, sit down. There’s obviously a legal disagreement here, and I think it’s something clearly reasonable minds could disagree on. We think the state statute has a clear exemption for contests of skill. And anybody who’s ever played poker knows that it’s not just a game of chance – people who are good at poker consistently win at poker. It’s kind of like golf. And certainly there are elements of chance in a lot of things, but this we believe is a contest of skills – courts around the country have been finding that.”
Hancock added, “We were in agreement to go through the dispute resolution process.” The tribe had just sent a letter to state Lottery Director Jeff Anderson today saying it would agree to an expedited process dispute-resolution process and binding arbitration, and proposing a meeting on May 9. Said Hancock, “It’s frustrating to see the state jump the gun on this.” The tribe issued a full statement on the lawsuit early this evening; you can read it here.