Compacts | Litigation

Stockbridge-Munsee Band sues to stop expansion of rival casino




The Ho-Chunk Nation continues work on an expansion project at its gaming facility in Wittenberg, Wisconsin. Photo: Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community is heading to court in hopes of stopping the expansion of a rival tribal casino in Wisconsin.

A lawsuit filed on Wednesday accuses Gov. Scott Walker (R) of violating Class III gaming agreements and the Ho-Chunk Nation of engaging in illegal activities at its facility in Wittenberg.

"We don’t relish having to take this step, but do so to protect our sovereign right to self-determination," Stockbridge-Munsee President Shannon Holsey said in a press release.

The Ho-Chunk Nation already started work on the $33 million expansion at Wittenberg. As an "ancillary" facility, no more than 50 percent of the property can be used for gaming activities, according to the tribe's Class III gaming compact.

But Stockbridge-Munsee leaders say Wittenberg is becoming too large to be considered "ancillary" under the agreement. Their North Star Casino Resort, located just 16 miles away, will lose revenues as a result, the lawsuit alleges.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community further alleges that the Wittenberg site does not qualify for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Generally, the law prohibits casinos on land acquired after 1988 unless an exception is met.

The Ho-Chunks could qualify for an exception found in Section 20 of the law. But the Stockbridge-Munsee compact includes a provision barring any new Section 20 casinos, according to the lawsuit.

The Ho-Chunk Nation has disputed the claim. A fact sheet posted on Facebook before the lawsuit was filed says Wittenberg has been in trust since 1963 and a spokesperson told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the land was declared a part of its reservation in 1986 -- well before the IGRA deadline.

The tribe also contends Wittenberg still qualifies as "ancillary" because the rest of the property is being used for a hotel, a restaurant and a convenience store.

Read More on the Story:
Stockbridge-Munsee tribe sues Wisconsin over Ho-Chunk casino expansion (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 4/19)
Tribe files lawsuit to block casino expansion in Shawano County (The Wisconsin State Journal 4/19)

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Ho-Chunk Nation continues to defend legality of casino expansion (April 10, 2017)
Stockbridge-Munsee Band prepares possible lawsuit in casino feud (April 6, 2017)
Ho-Chunk Nation defends legality of casino project in Wisconsin (March 8, 2017)
Stockbridge-Munsee Band withholds casino revenue in Wisconsin (March 7, 2017)
Ho-Chunk Nation faces opposition to casino expansion project (October 19, 2016)
Ho-Chunk Nation starts work on $153M gaming expansion project (September 26, 2016)