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Fond du Lac Band ordered to pay casino revenue back payments to Duluth

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In what Mayor Don Ness called "an important victory for Duluth," a judge ruled Tuesday that the Fond du Lac Band of Superior Chippewa pay the city at least $10.3 million, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson's ruling was for casino revenue back payments from late 2009 to April 2011, the period of time Duluth claimed the band stopped making payments to the city -- not for the amount of money Duluth claims the band since that date.

Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson said the band owed the city more than $12.4 million in principal and interest as of early 2013.

Fond du Lac Band chairwoman Karen Diver responded in a news conference Tuesday that the city overestimated the amount, Northland's Newscenter reports.

Diver says the band "will be reviewing the ruling with its legal counsel" to determine their next course of action.

The News Tribune says revenue sharing between the band and the city began in 1986 when band started operating the Fond-du-luth Casino on Superior Street in downtown Duluth.

Before the band stopped making payments in 2009, the city earned about $6 million a year, which was used as a primary source to rebuild city streets.

In her ruling, Nelson noted that the band has profited more than $20 million since it stopped paying the city, yet the band continued to receive city services for free.

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