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State v. Tribe

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 18, 2014

STATE OF IDAHO, a sovereign State of Plaintiff,
COEUR D'ALENE TRIBE, a federally recognized Indian tribe, the United States Defendant.


B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief Judge.


The Court has before it Defendant Coeur d'Alene Tribe's Motion for Stay of Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal (Dkt. 42). For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny the motion.


In early May 2014, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe began conducting Texas Hold 'em tournaments at the Coeur d'Alene Casino. Texas Hold 'em is a poker game. Idaho has expressly prohibited all forms of gambling other than: (1) a state lottery; (2) pari-mutuel betting on horse, dog, and mule races; and (3) certain bingo and raffle games. Shortly after the Tribe began conducting the tournaments, the State sued the Tribe in this Court, seeking to enjoin the tournaments. The State contends that poker is a prohibited form of gambling in Idaho and, further, that the Tribe is violating the parties' Class III Gaming Compact by conducting the poker tournaments. The Tribe, however, says that (1) Texas Hold 'em does not fit Idaho's definition of "gambling, " (2) the parties' Compact does not address Texas Hold 'em; and (3) this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over this dispute.

On September 5, 2014, this Court determined it had jurisdiction and issued an injunction preventing the Tribe from conducting the Texas Hold 'em tournaments. The Tribe now moves to stay this injunction pending appeal to the Ninth Circuit.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62(c)[1] authorizes district courts to stay equitable or injunctive relief during the pendency of an appeal. Rule 62(c), however, "grants the district court no broader power than it has always inherently possessed to preserve the status quo during the pendency of an appeal; it does not restore jurisdiction to the district court to adjudicate anew the merits of the case.' Thus, any action taken pursuant to Rule 62(c) may not materially alter the status of the case on appeal.'" Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. S.W. Marine Inc ., 242 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2001) (all internal citation omitted).

In determining whether to grant a stay under Rule 62(c), courts consider the following factors: "(1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies." Hilton v. Braunskill , 481 U.S. 770, 776 (1987). See also Lair v. Bullock , 697 F.3d 1200, 1203 (9th Cir. 2012). This standard presents a continuum. Golden Gate Rest. Ass'n v. City & County of San Francisco , 512 F.3d 1112, 1119 (9th Cir. 2008). At one end of the continuum, if there is a "probability" or "strong likelihood" of success on the merits of the appeal, a relatively low standard of hardship is sufficient. Id . At the other end, if the balance of hardships tips sharply in favor of the party seeking the stay, a relatively low standard of likelihood of success on the merits is sufficient. Id.

1. Strong Likelihood of Success on the Merits

The Tribe outlines three reasons why it will be able to make a strong showing that it will likely succeed on the merits of this action. First, the Tribe says it will succeed on the merits because the only way to resolve this dispute is through arbitration - not litigation. Second, the Tribe says the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this dispute. Third, and finally, the Tribe says it is entitled to offer Texas Hold 'em as a Class II game under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Court will address each argument in turn.

A. The Tribe Waived Its Right to Arbitrate

The Court is not persuaded by the Tribe's argument that, at this point in the proceedings, arbitration is the exclusive method of dispute resolution. The Tribe contends that it has always intended for this dispute to be arbitrated, but that the Court misinterpreted its intentions. The Tribe's conduct within this lawsuit seriously undermines this contention.

The State sued the Tribe on May 2, 2014. The Tribe responded with a motion to dismiss, arguing that the dispute should be arbitrated. In addition to invoking an arbitration clause in the parties' Class III Gaming Compact, however, the Tribe also tackled the substantive issues. The Tribe's central argument was that under relevant state and federal law, the Tribe was entitled to offer Texas Hold 'em tournaments at the Couer d'Alene Casino. See Dkt. 15-1.

On June 23, 2014, the Court issued a narrow ruling, restricted to the Tribe's invocation of the arbitration clause. See Dkt. 35. The Court concluded that the State had violated the arbitration clause by suing the Tribe before the conclusion of a 60-day window then in effect.[2] ...

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