The Seminar Group’s 11th annual Northwest Gaming Law Summit, which has a heavy focus on tribal gaming, is set for December 12-13 in Seattle, Washington. Oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, which were held on December 3, will be the focus of one of the panels. A separate panel will discuss the implications of the Arizona battle over tribal gaming development rights that is ongoing in Tohono O’odham v. City of Glendale. The conference will also feature National Indian Gaming Commission and National Indian Gaming Association updates, as well as Internet gaming in Indian Country and regional and national gaming trends. Details regarding the conference topics and speakers can be reviewed at www.TheSeminarGroup.net.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Pavel Velchev (Velchev & Co.)
The strategic geographical position of the country and the membership with the European Union provide a wide range of investment opportunities in Bulgaria not only for local, but for foreign investors as well. The advanced process of harmonization of the Bulgarian legislation with the EU one and the favorable macroeconomic environment also serve as a good basis for attracting foreign investments.
Below is an overview of some of the major advantages and incentives set forth by the Bulgarian legislation in favor of the legal entities and the natural persons starting business in the region.
Setting up a Company
Bulgaria is well known for the simplified registration procedures and the minimum capital requirements for the incorporation of a company. There are no restrictions relating to qualification and nationality for officers and directors of a company.
The most popular types of companies under Bulgarian law are as follows: a limited liability company, a joint-stock company, a general partnership, a limited partnership, and a partnership limited by shares.
Benefits Under the Investments Promotions Act
Foreign and local investors are entitled to apply for a special certificate before the Bulgarian Investment Agency depending on the scope of the investment. Thus, they can benefit from special incentives such as reduced administrative terms, financial support for construction of separate elements of the technical infrastructure, qualification courses for the personnel, etc.
Favorable Tax Regime
The corporate tax in Bulgaria is set at a flat rate of 10%, being one of the lowest in the EU. The current income tax rate for individuals is also 10%. Dividends distributed to corporate shareholders are exempt from withholding tax, while the average withholding tax is 5% of the gross income. The standard VAT rate is 20%, and a reduced rate of 9% applies to certain services in the tourist sector.
With increasing globalization and technological developments, investors may grow their companies and generate more income irrespective of the location. Large-scale businesses which seek to cut costs by outsourcing their activities may easily make use and take advantage of the local resources.
For example, foreigners seeking to acquire land may do so by the mere incorporation of a local company which shall be a party to the transactions.
In addition, the good level of English language knowledge and the technical and business competencies of the personnel, the market potential and the quality of the infrastructure all mark Bulgaria as an attractive outsourcing destination.
To learn more about investing in Bulgaria, check out the full article in the latest edition of Dickinson Wright’s Gaming Legal News.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”) released the revenue and wagering tax data for October 2013 for the three Detroit, Michigan, commercial casinos. The three Detroit commercial casinos posted a collective 4.2% decrease in gaming revenues compared to the same month in 2012. Aggregate gross gaming revenue for the Detroit commercial casinos in October held steady compared to September 2013 figures.
MGM Grand Detroit posted lower gaming revenue results for October 2013 as compared to the same month in 2012, with gaming revenue decreasing by 2.2%. MGM Grand Detroit continued to maintain the largest market share among the three Detroit commercial casinos and had total gaming revenue in October 2013 of approximately $46.3 million.
MotorCity Casino had monthly gaming revenue approaching $35.1 million, with revenues decreasing by more than 2.6% in October 2013 compared to October 2012. Greektown Casino had monthly gaming revenue in excess of $24.9 million and posted a 9.6% decrease in revenues for October 2013 compared to the same month in 2012.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Dickinson Wright PLLC and Sofia, Bulgaria-based law firm Velchev & Co., headed by Pavel Velchev, are pleased to announce that they have entered into a cooperation agreement to provide comprehensive legal services to their respective business and gaming clients.
The cooperation agreement between Dickinson Wright PLLC and Velchev & Co. follows similar arrangements the firm has with WH Partners in Malta, Varela & Fonseca Abogados in Lima, Peru and MdME in Macau, each of which has internationally recognized lawyers with extensive gaming and business law expertise as part of Dickinson Wright’s focus on serving its gaming clients on a truly worldwide basis.
Dickinson Wright’s gaming practice group is comprised of more than 30 lawyers with diverse specialties that cover the entire spectrum of today’s commercial and Indian gaming industries, both nationally and internationally. We have counseled clients on many forms of gaming, including sweepstakes, raffles, charitable gaming, Internet gaming, social gaming and lotteries, and we are experienced with advising in well-established gaming jurisdictions as well as newer and emerging gaming jurisdictions. Representing casino owners and operators, gaming equipment manufacturers and suppliers, investors and financial institutions, we advise on all matters relating to the acquisition, development, financing, licensing and operation of casinos and other gaming facilities. Our lawyers in the gaming practice group have been recognized as among the best gaming lawyers in the world in Chambers Global, Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.
Velchev & Co. is a 12-member firm that is broadly experienced in the fields of corporate and commercial, administrative law, licensing procedures and related regulatory affairs and litigation, with a special focus on consulting new technology businesses. Nadya Hambach heads the gaming practice with the firm. With recent and pending changes in the taxation of gambling and already legalized Internet gambling with compliance with European principles, Bulgaria is vying to become the Eastern European leader in the development of the gambling industry. Velchev & Co. is ranked by Chambers Global and recognized as a leading law firm in The Legal 500. The firm’s website can be viewed at www.vlaw.bg.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Contracts with Indian tribes should specify a venue for disputes arising from those agreements. A common mistake for attorneys drafting agreements involving tribes is to assume that federal courts automatically have subject matter jurisdiction over matters involving Indian tribes. In fact, the presence of an Indian tribal party in litigation invokes neither diversity nor “arising-under” federal jurisdiction. Contracts often specify a federal court as the venue for disputes, likely because tribal parties sometimes distrust state courts and non-tribal parties may distrust tribal courts, so federal court seems like a neutral choice. However, experienced Indian law attorneys know that federal courts generally lack subject matter jurisdiction over contract disputes and will summarily dismiss such actions. As a result, litigants may unexpectedly find themselves in state and tribal courts. In fact, state courts increasingly defer to tribal courts when such courts have jurisdiction and may dismiss in favor of tribal court as a matter of comity.
A related issue is the proper venue for enforcement of tribal court awards. The 2010 Florida case of Miccosukee Tribe v. Kraus-Anderson involved a construction firm’s tribal court action against the Miccosukee Tribe for breach of contract. The tribal court found for the Tribe and awarded it $1.65 million on a counterclaim. When the firm refused to pay the judgment, the Tribe sued to enforce the award in federal court. The district court granted the construction firm summary judgment, but the Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Eleventh Circuit held that federal question jurisdiction did not exist merely because an Indian tribe was a party or because the case involved a contract with an Indian tribe. It further ruled that the Tribe’s presence did not establish diversity jurisdiction and that no issue of “federal common law” established jurisdiction as the Tribe has argued.
Brenner v. Bendigo, an action recently dismissed from a federal district court in South Dakota, reiterates the point. After a federal criminal conviction for the tragic murder of a child, the victim’s family brought a civil wrongful death action in Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court, which entered a $3 million award for the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs sought to enforce the tribal court award in federal district court, pursuant to South Dakota’s garnishment law. They requested garnishment and the setting aside of transfers of personal assets and real property interests on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. The federal court rejected plaintiffs’ argument that the court had federal question jurisdiction over the action, despite the fact that the claim implicated Indian land interests. The court dismissed, holding that the action arose under state law despite the claim for Indian land and assets, and it held that the proper venue to enforce the tribal court judgment against tribal members is the tribal court itself.
While the tribal court is a natural venue for resolution of claims involving Indian assets, the outcome begs the question of the proper venue to execute tribal court awards involving off-reservation property. In that case, prevailing litigants will have to pursue off-reservation assets in state courts. In order to reach those assets, tribal court awards must generally be domesticated in the court of the state where the assets are located pursuant to state law.
Contracting with Indian tribes can sometimes appear to be a tangled mess of tribal, state, and federal jurisdiction. While federal courts seem like a tempting middle ground for dispute resolution, ordinary contracts with Indian tribes should specify arbitration or a tribal or state court venue, specify tribal or state law, provide for a valid waiver of tribal sovereign immunity, and consider in advance the proper venue for enforcement of judgment and arbitration awards.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”) released the revenue and wagering tax data for September 2013 for the three Detroit, Michigan commercial casinos. The three Detroit commercial casinos posted a collective 6.8% decrease in gaming revenues compared to the same month in 2012. Aggregate gross gaming revenue for the Detroit commercial casinos also decreased by approximately 5.8% compared to August 2013 revenue figures, continuing a pattern of decrease in revenues between September and August from prior years.
MGM Grand Detroit posted lower gaming revenue results for September 2013 as compared to the same month in 2012, with gaming revenue decreasing by more than 10.8%. MGM Grand Detroit continued to maintain the largest market share among the three Detroit commercial casinos and had total gaming revenue in September 2013 of approximately $45.3 million.
MotorCity Casino had monthly gaming revenue approaching $35.7 million, with revenues increasing by more than 0.4% in September 2013 compared to September 2012. Greektown Casino had monthly gaming revenue of nearly $25.4 million and posted an 8.6% decrease in revenues for September 2013 compared to the same month in 2012.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Wisconsin is home to 11 recognized Indian tribes. It is a fact that 11 tribes will not unanimously agree on all issues. It also is a fact that not all issues require unanimous agreement. However, Governor Scott Walker has created a unique situation regarding off-reservation approvals by stating his own rule which states that any proposed off-reservation casino project must be supported by every tribe in the state.
The “Walker Rule” is a major modification of the statutory process established by Section 20(b)(1)(A) of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”). The law states that the Governor has an unrestricted power to approve or veto any off-reservation tribal casino. There is no standard of reasonableness imposed by the law and, indeed, the prevailing interpretation of that provision is that the Governor’s decision can even be arbitrary and capricious, no matter how unfair.
The issue is red hot because the Menominee Indian Tribe wants to develop a casino on land in Kenosha, which is both off-reservation and conveniently located near Milwaukee. And it is of current interest throughout Indian Country because the Governor has stated that he will veto the project if the Menominee Tribe cannot secure tribal unanimity by Friday, October 25, 2013. (The date was previously set for Tuesday of this week, but was deferred for three days only last Monday.)
The project is strongly opposed by the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, which operates a casino and bingo hall in Milwaukee, which it estimates could lose up to 40 percent of its current revenue. In addition, the tribe estimates that up to 3,000 jobs in its gaming facility could be lost as a direct result of the proposed competition in Kenosha.
The United States Department of the Interior has approved the off-reservation acquisition pursuant to IGRA Section 20, putting the ultimate decision on the Governor’s desk. The Assistant Interior Secretary for Indian Affairs has been quoted as stating that the Department has reviewed the Potawatomi claims and concluded that the projected adverse impacts simply will not happen. Several gaming industry experts also question the Potawatomi projections in light of an estimated market population of 3 million people, a market that likely would generate an estimated $1 billion in annual gaming revenue.
A second tribe has voiced opposition to the Kenosha project, but the project impact on its casino revenues is much less than those estimated by the Potawatomi, and it has been less visible as the decision day approaches. The remaining eight tribes seem to have stayed away from the debate.
Friday is “D-Day” for the Wisconsin Indian community. The Kenosha project would represent a substantial addition to the gaming opportunity in the immediate market area, and it would generate sorely needed revenue for the Menominee tribal members who are reported to suffer widespread poverty and unemployment. Indeed, Interior expressed concern about the tribal economic problems in approving the trust acquisition.
Governor Walker controls both the process and the future of an impoverished tribe, and he has unfettered statutory discretion to make the decision. The economic facts and projected positive impacts normally would indicate a decision in favor of the Menominee. However, if the two opposing tribes stand their ground and Governor Walker invokes the “Walker Rule” that he articulated, Menominee will lose.