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April 1, 2008

VANCOUVER, WA - The city of Vancouver filed a lawsuit Friday in the Tacoma federal court to block the Cowlitz Tribe from building their planned $510 million mega-casino near La Center, Washington. The lawsuit challenges a recent National Indian Gaming Commission ruling to allow the Cowlitz to process their plans for building the casino on 152 acres near the La Center-Interstate 5 junction.

The lawsuit argues two key points:

  • Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, all Indian casinos must be operated on tribal land. The proposed La Center site is owned by Salishan-Mohegan, a limited liability company with ties to the tribe.
  • The Cowlitz Tribe currently has no gaming compact with the state of Washington, so the lawsuit argues that the National Indian Gaming Commission has no jurisdiction to approve a casino on the land.

Beyond the lawsuit, the most critical decision regarding the casino is still pending with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The bureau is deciding whether the 152-acre land will be taken into federal trust. Their approval would grant sovereignty to the land and is a prerequisite for building the casino.

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