Potawatomi tribe seeking to join anti-gambling lawsuit

Topeka, Kansas (AP) 9-07

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation will ask a judge next month to let it join Attorney General Paul Morrison’s lawsuit arguing that the state law allowing casinos and slot machines at racetracks is unconstitutional.

Morrison filed a “friendly lawsuit” last month asking the Kansas Supreme Court to strike down the law. The move was seen as a way to get a definitive ruling on its constitutionality.

The court last week transferred the case to Shawnee County District Court, although the high court likely will have the final word on any appeal of the trial court’s ruling.

The law, which took effect in April, authorizes one casino in each of four areas and slot machines at dog and horse tracks. The Kansas Lottery is supposed to own and operate the new gambling, but day-to-day management would be left to private developers who would have contracts with the state.

Morrison alleged the state won’t be involved enough in the new gambling. The Kansas Constitution permits a state owned and operated lottery, and in 1994 the Supreme Court said “lottery” was broad enough to cover slot machines and other casino games.

Earlier, the tribe, which operates a casino north of Topeka, said it might file a lawsuit arguing the constitution doesn’t allow the state to hire private developers to run gambling operations. Instead, it filed motion last month asking to intervene.