- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the city of Duluth have reached a tentative agreement that could end a long-running legal dispute over revenue from the Fond-du-Luth Casino.

The two sides say they’ve reached a 10-year agreement that calls for the Fond du Lac Band to pay the city $150,000 a year to cover services provided to the casino, located in downtown Duluth. Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1UD7CBn ) reports that in exchange, the city will drop its legal challenges to whether it’s entitled to a portion of casino revenue.

“In this new norm, the city gains a renewed business partner paying their fair share in line with other businesses to operate in our downtown,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said. “Our communities gain by putting a contentious, painful litigation-based relationship to rest.”

Terms of a 1994 deal required the Fond du Lac to share 19 percent of casino revenue with the city - which amounted to about $6 million annually.

Eventually, the band stopped its payments and the legal battle has been waging for years. The National Indian Gaming Commission said in 2011 that the 1994 deal was illegal.

In several lawsuits, federal courts have made rulings in the band’s favor.

“The truth is that the court system has spoken very clearly on several occasions,” Larson said. “And the reality is that our time and energy and financial resources are much better spent in ways that can move our community forward.”

Fond du Lac Interim Chair Wally Dupuis said the tentative agreement gives stability for the casino’s 235 employees and makes opportunities for future growth in jobs.

“This agreement respects the sovereignty of the band while recognizing that we can be good neighbors and good partners within the city,” Dupuis said.

The agreement is set to be voted on by the Duluth City Council on Friday at a special meeting. The agreement has gotten the approval of the Fond du Lac band’s Reservation Business Committee.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org



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