An Indian casino under development in California in partnership with Station Casinos LLC isn't among the Indian gaming projects around the country that may be affected by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week, Fitch Ratings said Wednesday, reversing an earlier statement about the project.
The court allowed a lawsuit to proceed in which an Indian casino foe is challenging a project in Michigan.
In examining the ruling Tuesday, Wall Street debt rater Fitch Ratings said it could potentially affect projects around the country by giving foes more time to challenge government decisions taking land into trust for tribes, paving the way for Indian casinos. Fitch also said it could encourage more challenges to Indian casinos.
Fitch initially said tribes and projects that could be affected included the Graton Rancheria in California and the Snoqualmie Tribe with its Snoqualmie Casino in Washington state.
In correcting that information Wednesday, Fitch said the U.S. Interior Department's land-into-trust approval for the Graton Rancheria was authorized by Congress in the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act of 2000, putting the case outside the scope of the Supreme Court decision this week.
''Graton Rancheria's casino project in the San Francisco/Sacramento market will likely remain unaffected by the ruling," Fitch said in a revised report Wednesday.
Las Vegas-based Station Casinos is partnering with the Graton Rancheria and they ground broke on their casino Monday.
Fitch, in the revised report on the court ruling, also dropped its reference to the Snoqualmie Tribe because the Administrative Procedures Act’s six-year statute of limitations for the tribe has lapsed.
Fitch on Wednesday also clarified references regarding the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts and Firekeepers casino in Michigan.
"This decision could complicate the Mashpee Wampanoag's standing with respect to its Massachusetts gaming regulatory approvals. If the tribe does not meet certain hurdles/deadlines, the Massachusetts' southeast zone license could be opened to other bidders. The next relevant date for the tribe is the July 31, 2012, deadline to have a signed gaming compact," Fitch said in its revised report.
''The decision may also embolden additional parties to step forward to challenge land-into-trust decisions that took place within the last six years. Impacted tribes may include the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, who had land taken into trust in December 2006 on which the Firekeepers Casino was built, but the six-year Administrative Procedures Act statute of limitation clock may be set to an earlier date," the revised Fitch report said.
"Fitch notes that there is a fair amount of uncertainty with respect to effective dates regarding the statute of limitations since it could be subject to some level of legal interpretation," the revised report says.