The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has prevailed in its long-running dispute with the city of Duluth over revenue-sharing from the tribe's downtown Fond-du-Luth Casino.
Since 1986, the band has shared about $6 million in revenue annually with the city. Two years ago, the Band stopped making revenue sharing payments to the city. The city sued. The band argued their contract violated the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
In a decision Monday, federal district judge Susan Nelson agreed. She ruled the tribe did not have to continue sharing revenue for the next 25 years, as stipulated by the original contract.
That's left Duluth Mayor Don Ness puzzled. "How can an opinion by a political appointee undercut the foundation of a contract signed between two parties, and that opinion clearly benefits one party over another," Ness said.
Fond du Lac chairwoman Karen Diver called the ruling a vindication for the band.
"The word is spreading quickly through our community that the band will be the primary beneficiary of their own enterprise, and they're quite excited about it," Diver said.
Nelson ruled the band did have to pay the revenues it's withheld from Duluth since 2009, an estimated $14 million. An appeal is likely.