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Judge orders Wyandotte casino to remain closed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal judge has ordered the state to return gambling equipment seized from the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma when officials shut down a casino in downtown Kansas City, Kan., but barred the tribe from resuming gambling there.

The state raided the casino in April, eight months after the tribe opened it.

The ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson denied a request by the tribe that the state return about $500,000 in cash that was seized. That money will be held by the court until other issues are resolved, Robinson said.

Robinson granted the tribe's request for a preliminary injunction against the state until the judge rules on a lawsuit the tribe filed against Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Attorney General Phill Kline and other state and local officials.

Robinson also ruled that the state could not claim any jurisdiction over the site, known as the Shriner Tract.

``We are very pleased with this decision,'' Kline said in a news release. ``Our goal all along was not to deny the rights of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma but rather to prevent gambling on the Shriner Tract until all legal issues are resolved and the tribe has fully complied with all proper procedures for establishing Indian gaming.''

Tribal officials and attorneys did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Robinson also ruled that Kline did not have the authority to raid and close the casino because the federal government has jurisdiction over tribal government.

``The state is powerless to regulate or prohibit such gaming,'' she wrote.

Robinson held a hearing on the issue in July, part of a legal battle over the Wyandotte Nation's efforts to operate casino gambling in Kansas despite opposition from state officials and four other tribes that have their own casinos.

Although the Wyandottes' headquarters is in northeast Oklahoma, the tribe has some Kansas roots.

In the 1840s, after the tribe gave up land in Michigan and Ohio to the federal government, members settled in what is now the Kansas City area. A decade later, the federal government allowed members of the tribe to become U.S. citizens or retain their tribal affiliation and move to present-day Oklahoma, which some did.
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