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Experts doubt lawsuit will stop Rohnert Park casino

A lawsuit that questions the right of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria to open a casino next to Rohnert Park may delay the project but is unlikely to stop it, some Indian law experts say.

The suit challenges the sovereign status of the Indian-owned land.

"It was carefully constructed, the pleadings were clear. They very carefully set out the law," said Dennis Whittlesey, a Detroit Indian law attorney who helped draft the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the regulatory structure for tribal gambling.

Still, he said, "so much has been decided at the federal level, including the trust acceptance, it would be very hard for this lawsuit to be successful, though they may have some victories short term."

The suit revives arguments from an earlier suit that in 2010 was rejected by a federal appeals court on grounds it was premature. The new suit is againt Gov. Jerry Brown and seeks to invalidate an agreement, or compact, he reached with the tribe to allow the casino.

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