The highly contested plan to build a casino in the rural East County community of Jamul has hit a new roadblock, as a local citizens’ group and area church have filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of a National Indian Gaming Commission ruling that allows the project to move forward.
At stake is whether the Jamul Indian Village is entitled to tribal lands as allowed under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which was intended to cover only tribes existing and recognized at the time the law was enacted. The Jamul tribe did not gain recognition until the 1980s and therefore, argue plaintiffs Jamul Action Committee and Jamul Community Church, the parcel on which the tribe has its reservation does not truly qualify as reservation land under federal law and cannot be used to host a casino.
According to a Courthouse News Service report, the Committee and Church claim allowing the tribe to move forward with construction of the casino would “cause committee environmental, aesthetic, and economic harm.”
Additionally, the groups argue that the casino will “deplete groundwater, increase pollution, cause traffic congestion, diminish property values and contribute to crime,” as well as create an extra burden on local law enforcement. They seek an injunction to stop any work on the proposed casino, which the tribe and new business partner Penn National Gaming had intended to begin later this year.