Here is the complaint in Devlin v. Cox, the case brought by the former Michigan Gaming Control Board employee now working for Detroit casino interests over whether tribal gaming operations should be required to apply for state liquor licenses. [Our previous post.]
The odd thing about this claim is that Devlin suggests in the news that he thinks it is unfair that tribal casinos don’t have to be licensed but the Detroit casinos do. There are some weird things about this claim.
First, why is it unfair? Is there some money value lost by the Detroit casinos over this regulatory “advantage”? No, of course not. Tribal casinos are a hundred miles away, mostly far from the market that Detroit dominates — that is, southeast Michigan. So Devlin’s “unfairness” claim won’t do his new clients any good even if he prevails.
Second, Devlin’s federal Indian law/liquor regulation argument ignores the modern history of tribal-state relations. Yes, there are ambiguities in this area of the law. And so the tribal and state negotiators did the smart thing in 1993 and later — avoid litigation by creating a “law of the deal” that finds a way around the muddied legal waters. It was part of the horse-trading that went on in that negotiation. It’s the epitome of fairness.
Finally, if fairness were any measure, Devlin must be forgetting that the Michigan governor who cut the deal in 1993 promised the seven compacting tribes that they would have market exclusivity in the entire State, only to renege on that promise as soon as it was made by gunning for state-licensed casinos in Detroit.
Devlin’s idea of fairness is a joke.