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Narragansett Indian Tribe v. State

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

March 4, 2015

Narragansett Indian Tribe
v.
State of Rhode Island and UTGR, Inc. d/b/a Twin River and Newport Grand, LLC (Intervenors)

Washington County Superior Court. (WC 11-621). Associate Justice Melanie Wilk Thunberg.

For Plaintiff: William P. Devereaux, Esq.

For Defendant: Michael W. Field, Department of Attorney General, Mitchell R. Edwards, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ. Justice Goldberg did not participate.

OPINION

Page 1161

Indeglia, Justice

The plaintiff, the Narragansett Indian Tribe (Tribe), appeals from the entry of partial summary judgment in the Superior Court in favor of the defendant, the State of Rhode Island (state), and the intervenor defendant, UTGR, Inc. d/b/a Twin River (UTGR), finding that the 2011 Casino Act, G.L. 1956 chapter 61.2 of title 42 (Casino Act or the act) is not facially unconstitutional. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

I

Facts and Travel

Much of the background of the lengthy disputes between the state and the Tribe as it pertains to gambling in Rhode Island is succinctly summarized in our previous opinion in this case. See Narragansett Indian Tribe v. State, 81 A.3d 1106, 1107-09 (R.I. 2014) (Tribe I). Accordingly, here, we summarize only the pertinent facts necessary to the disposition of this appeal.

The present appeal concerns only the facial constitutionality of the Casino Act.[1] On September 28, 2011, the Tribe filed a complaint against the state seeking a declaration that the Casino Act is unconstitutional in violation of article 6, section 15 of the Rhode Island Constitution, which provides, in relevant part, that " [a]ll lotteries

Page 1162

shall be prohibited in the state except lotteries operated by the state * * * and all shall be subject to the prescription and regulation of the general assembly." Additionally, the Tribe asserted that the Casino Act was unconstitutionally vague and in violation of the non-delegation doctrine embodied in sections 1 and 2 of article 6 of the Rhode Island Constitution. Subsequently, UTGR was permitted to intervene as a defendant.

A hearing before the Washington County Superior Court on the parties' cross-motions for partial summary judgment was held on May 30, 2012. The hearing justice later issued a written decision, which found that, although the Tribe had standing, it nonetheless had failed to meet its burden of ...


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