Red Hawk Casino tribe wins big lawsuit | The Sacramento Bee – Sacramento Bee

Red Hawk Casino hit a jackpot of its own Friday, fending off a $30 million court judgment that once threatened its existence.

Nearly six years after a jury said Red Hawk’s tribal owners owed millions to its former business partner, a state appeals court wiped the verdict off the books. The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that the ex-partner’s claims weren’t valid because his contract with the tribe was never approved by the federal agency that oversees Indian casinos.

Red Hawk opened off Highway 50 near Shingle Springs in late 2008, during the depths of the recession, and struggled mightily in its early years to win customers. The 2011 court verdict, which drew considerable attention in the Indian casino industry, almost put it over the edge. An El Dorado Superior Court jury ruled against the casino’s owner, the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, in a breach-of-contract case against former partner Chris Anderson, a Southern California casino entrepreneur.

The tribe said it couldn’t afford to pay Anderson’s company, Sharp Image Gaming Inc., the $30 million ordered by the jury. In court papers filed a few months after the verdict, the tribe’s lawyers sketched a “doomsday scenario” under which lenders could seize the casino’s cash and put the $535 million facility out of business.

“Any efforts to presently execute on the judgment would likely have catastrophic consequences for the tribe and all who depend on the casino for their livelihood,” the lawyers wrote.

Doomsday was averted when Gov. Jerry Brown renegotiated the tribe’s state gambling compact. The original agreement forced the tribe to pay the state 25 percent of its slot machine winnings. The new deal gave the tribe a three-year breather on making any payments; after that, payments were slashed to 15 percent.

The tribe said the appeal court’s

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