Crime & Justice

Judge throws out Temecula's lawsuit against Pechanga Indian tribe

Temecula's Pechanga Resort & Casino at night
Temecula's Pechanga Resort & Casino at night
Chris "LA Wad"/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

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A federal judge has thrown out Temecula’s lawsuit against the Pechanga Indian tribe. Temecula had sued the tribe over fees for services it provided to the casino and hotel complex.

The city had claimed tribal leaders reneged on a $2 million annual payment for police and other services at the Pechanga Resort and Casino. That agreement came after California voters approved measures three years ago that allowed tribes to expand gaming operations.

The measures ensured that tribes would pay bigger fees to cover the impacts of casino expansion. Pechanga agreed to the annual payouts, and to contribute $10 million to a freeway project, but only after it had significantly grown its gaming operation.

That hasn’t happened. The tribe also says it can’t cement any agreement with Temecula without Riverside County’s approval.

Last month, California pulled out of the lawsuit against Pechanga, saying compacts with gaming tribes require the state to resolve disputes before going to court. The federal judge who dismissed the lawsuit says the state’s compact had to authorize such lawsuits and call for an environmental impact study.