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Duluth wins round in lawsuit over casino money

A federal judge has sided with the city of Duluth in a high-stakes legal battle over sharing revenue from slots machine in a downtown casino.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa stopped sharing the money last year and was demanding that the city return $75 million it had shared over the past 25 years.

But the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery says the band must resume sharing its slot-machine revenue with the city of Duluth and provide back payments to the city, says the Duluth News Tribune.

The judge said the band had not shown the 1994 agreement to be invalid, and the payments must continue for another year, when a new agreement is scheduled to be in place.

According to the paper:

Duluth Mayor Don Ness estimated that the band owes the city about $4 million in back payments. It also means the city won’t have to repay $75 million to the band, which could have bankrupted the city.

The city generally uses the casino revenue for street repair. The money also has contributed to a high bond rating for the city, despite its budget woes over the years.

Karen Diver, chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said she and her staff will review the band’s options and didn’t rule out an appeal. The band’s lawsuit claimed that Fond du Lac and the city of Duluth believed wrongly in 1994 that the band needed city approval to establish Indian land within city limits.

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