Ho-Chunk Nation casino facing lawsuit over expansion

SHAWANO COUNTY, Wis. - The Ho-Chunk Nation has a lawsuit on their hands after another tribe, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, sued them over an expansion they say breaks state gaming agreements.

The Ho-Chunk own and operate a casino in Wittenberg behind a gas station. Right now, the casino is open and undergoing construction to expand their business, and add over 200 more slots. 

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community owns and operates the North Star Mohican Casino Resort, about 15 miles away. 

"What they're proposing, and are currently building, is a roughly 800-slot machine facility with table games, high-stakes gaming, food and beverage venues, and an 85-room hotel," Dennis Puzz, Jr., the General Counsel for the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, said.

According to the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, that violates state gaming agreements because the Ho-Chunk's Wittenberg location is meant to just be an ancillary, meaning business revenue needs to primarily come from non-gaming operations.

"There's no way a consumer can confuse that full-fledged casino with an ancillary facility," Puzz, Jr. said.

So far, the state isn't stopping the Ho-Chunk Nation. On Wednesday, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community brought a federal lawsuit to Madison to not only sue Ho-Chunk Nation, but also Governor Scott Walker and the state of Wisconsin. 

"The issue is with the state of Wisconsin not enforcing compacts," Puzz, Jr. said. "The state has refused to act and enforce the compacts."

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community has also filed a preliminary injunction in hopes of stopping the Ho-Chunk from adding more gaming machines.

The Community says the expansion would be a devastating blow to their casino business in Western Shawano County. 

"The tribe commissioned a study that showed a $22 million revenue hit to the Mohican North Star Casino," Puzz, Jr. said.

For now, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community is withholding $923,000 from the state until the issue is resolved. 

 

 


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