Lottery Sales, Jackpocket Operation Leads Cayuga Nation To Sue New York

A federal lawsuit has been filed by the Cayuga Nation against the state of New York.

The tribe is suing the state gaming commission, its chairman Brian O’Dwyer, and Jackpocket for unlawful gaming activity taking place on reservation land.

It is also seeking compensation for revenue it believes it is entitled to based on the operations that are taking place.

Cayuga National announced the lawsuit late last week, filing with the US District Court after it alleges the gaming commission failed to respond to previous demands.

Cayuga Nation says IGRA is being violated

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York.

In the suit, Cayuga Nation alleges the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) is being violated by the state. It believes the IGRA grants it exclusive rights to regulate any gaming activity on its lands.

The National Indian Gaming Commission approved the tribe’s gaming ordinance in 2003. It currently offers Class II gaming machines at four different “Lakeside Entertainment” locations on its lands. That includes electronic bingo and poker.

The IGRA was established in 1988 and preempts any state regulations. It was enacted to give tribes exclusivity on gaming in order to provide economic independence for their nations.

NY Lottery operating on Cayuga land

The nation says that the state has licensed multiple lottery terminals within reservation lands. They dispense instant win games and lottery draw games. The state also licensed Jackpocket to sell state lottery tickets within these lands as an online courier service.

Cayuga Nation can’t offer class III games on its property as it doesn’t have an established gaming compact with New York. However, lottery games are viewed as class III gaming.

According to the tribe in a press release, the state allowing lottery terminals and Jackpocket to operate on its lands undermines its authority and threatens its economic livelihood:

“The Cayuga Nation has a responsibility to enforce its federally approved gaming ordinance and stop all unlawful gaming within the Reservation, whether by the State or private individuals,” said the nation’s representative, Clint Halftown. “The Cayuga Nation Council will not ignore the State’s gaming, especially the expansion to mobile gaming and the license to Jackpocket Inc.”

The tribe notes that it has its own gaming operations on the reservation that it uses to provide benefits to its citizens. It believes the state’s actions threaten its ability to provide those benefits.

Cayuga Nation also seeking compensation

As part of the IGRA, any state gaming on tribal lands requires an agreement with that tribe. The reason is the nation is entitled to at least 60% of the net revenue from those state gaming operations.

On top of alleging that the New York Lottery is operating illegally on its grounds, the tribe also says it hasn’t been compensated for the lottery sales.

Cayuga Nation is seeking an injunction to have the lottery machines and Jackpocket app shut down on its reservation.

The tribe says it reached out to the New York Gaming Commission in the fall of 2023 and again in the winter of 2024. Its hopes were to discuss the issue, but it received no response. That prompted the lawsuit.

Attempts to reach the NY Gaming Commission for a response weren’t immediately returned.

Jackpocket isn’t the lone courier service in New York. Lotto.com and Jackpot.com also operate in the state, but they don’t use retailers on the lands of Cayuga Nation.

 

Photo by PlayiLottery

About the Author

Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis

Lead Writer
A member of Catena Media since 2020, Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer at PlayiLottery, where he handles coverage of the online and retail lottery industry in the US. He previously spearheaded news content at PlayMichigan, where he covered one of the most prominent online lottery industries in the US — among the many other aspects of Michigan's sprawling iGaming market. You can email him at [email protected].
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