Casino News

Federal Judge Junks Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe Lawsuit over Ho-Chunk Nation’s Casino Expansion

The bickering between the Wisconsin tribal nations Stockbridge-Munsee and Ho-Chunk seems to finally take a direction. According to the latest updates on the case, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Stockbridge-Munsee. As it can be recalled, the tribal nation asked the state to stop the expansion of Ho-Chunk Nation’s casino, which is in close proximity of a gambling facility operated by Stockbridge-Munsee. U.S. District Judge James Peterson explained that Stockbridge-Munsee did not act in a timely manner and waited for several years to undertake legal actions.

In a 12-page decision issued on Wednesday, Judge James Peterson dismissed Stockbridge-Munsee’s lawsuit over Ho-Chunk’s casino expansion. It was explained that the plaintiff should have filed lawsuit in 2008, when Ho-Chunk opened its casino for the first time. Judge Peterson is yet to rule out on the Stockbridge-Munsee’s claim against the state.

On Thursday, Stockbridge-Munsee nation announced that it is to appeal the judge’s decision. In a statement, the President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Council Shannon Holsey announced that the tribe acted in an adequate way and the dismissal is unreasonable. Ms. Holsey added that Stockbridge-Munsee filed its legal claim in 2016, when the tribe firstly heard about Ho-Chunk’s expansion plan. Earlier this year, the tribe demonstrated its serious approach to the problem. Stockbridge-Munsee issued a letter to Gov. Scott Walker to inform the state about its intent to chop off $923,000 from its payment in relation to its dispute with the Ho-Chunk Nation.

What Triggered the Dispute between the Two Tribes

The Ho-Chunk Wittenberg casino is no more than 18 miles away from Stockbridge-Munsee gambling facility. The close proximity between the 2 venues is to hit Stockbridge-Munsee’s operations. It was estimated that Stockbridge-Munsee $33 million casino expansion is to hurt Ho-Chunk’s profitability and the tribal nation is to lose around 37% of its gambling revenue. Vexed by these figures, Stockbridge-Munsee decided to undertake legal actions against Ho-Chunk’s expansion plan. According to Stockbridge-Munsee’s appeal, the Wittenberg project violates the terms of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s casino compact with the state.

Here it is interesting to note that all the 11 federally recognized tribal nations in Wisconsin have compacts with the state, which outlines their rights as casino operators and their payments to the state. Under Ho-Chunk’s gambling compact with the state, the tribe was allowed to open a gambling venue as “an ancillary” gambling hub. According to Ho-Chunk’s casino expansion plan, it is to increase the number of slot machines from the current 506 to 778. Apart from that, the Ho-Chunk Nation considers adding high-limit gaming and 10 table games. As for non-gambling activities, the project includes a luxurious hotel complex featuring 86 rooms, a classy restaurant, and a bar.