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June 27, 2022

What does it mean for a casino if the state can’t enforce its unfair competition laws?

Regarding Federal Preemption of State Law: A Lesson for Local
Government Wrestling with Native Americans’ Casino Issues
Almost lost in last year’s election news coverage was the Ninth
Circuit Court’s decision on Nov. 1 sustaining the dismissal of
California’s unfair competition lawsuits against energy producers,
that California alleged defrauded the state’s electricity consumers
during the energy crisis in 2000 and 2001.
Editor,

Regarding Federal Preemption of State Law: A Lesson for Local Government Wrestling with Native Americans’ Casino Issues

Almost lost in last year’s election news coverage was the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision on Nov. 1 sustaining the dismissal of California’s unfair competition lawsuits against energy producers, that California alleged defrauded the state’s electricity consumers during the energy crisis in 2000 and 2001.

Applying the doctrine of federal preemption, the court held that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over interstate wholesale power rates and, therefore, states have no regulatory authority over the subject.

Parallels abound under this constitutional doctrine, e.g., transportation of people and goods in interstate and foreign commerce. So I think that local government officials should recognize the court’s interpretation when considering their responses to Native American casino proposals. If the state cannot enforce its unfair competition laws, state laws and local ordinances about the casinos may be unenforceable, and fall in the face of federal preemption. Caveat Viator!

Joseph P. Thompson, Tres Pinos

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