U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill heard from both the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the state of Idaho today in the state’s bid to shut down the tribe’s poker room at its Worley casino, but issued no immediate ruling.
The federal judge is considering motions from the state for a temporary restraining order to halt the poker play and for injunctive action to block it in the future; and from the tribe to dismiss the state’s lawsuit. The state contends that all poker is banned in Idaho, both in the Constitution and by state law. But the tribe argues that the type of poker it’s offering – Texas Hold ‘Em tournament play – falls under a legal definition for games of skill, not illegal gambling. That would mean if anyone else in the state is authorized to offer it, the tribe could too, under its gaming compact with the state.
Winmill gave no indication today at the Coeur d’Alene hearing as to when he’ll rule on the various motions. “There’s still a reply brief due from the tribe,” said tribal official Helo Hancock. “We feel like we’re on pretty solid legal ground and we’re hopeful that the judge agrees with our position,” Hancock said.
State attorneys who traveled to Coeur d’Alene for the hearing weren’t immediately available for comment. In legal arguments filed with the court, they argued that “any variant of ‘poker’” is illegal in Idaho.
The poker room at the Coeur d’Alene Casino opened May 2; Hancock said it’s proven popular.