A federal judge has dismissed the Ho-Chunk Nation and its plans for local casino expansion from the lawsuit filed by the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe.
The Ho-Chunk Nation was sided by the US District Judge James Peterson from the legal action. The case was filed by the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe over Ho-Chunk’s intentions to expand its casino in Shawano County, which is situated in close proximity to another gambling venue that is owned by the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe.
The expansion of the Ho-Chunk Nation would result in bringing hundreds more slot machines to its Wittenberg casino, plus various gaming tables, a hotel, a restaurant and a bar. The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe described this expansion as a huge one and claimed that according to the federal judge it was obviously not a problem to violate the gaming compact with the state.
What is more, the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe further said that it intended to hold back payments of approximately $1 million it owned to the state. It also sued both the state’s Governor Scott Walker and the state of Wisconsin as a whole as part of its legal action against the Ho-Chunk Nation.
Federal Judge Peterson’s Ruling
The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe called the federal judge’s decision an outrageous one, saying they will appeal the decision. According to US District Judge Peterson’s ruling, the lawsuit was filed quite late in order to be able to block the desired expansion of Ho-Chunk Nation in northern Wisconsin.
The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Council’s president, Shannon Holsey, explained that the tribe’s actions were accurate and timely, once it found out in 2016 that the Ho-Chunk had been fully violating their compact with the state. Under the terms of the compact, the tribe was allowed to build a $41-million casino resort. Holsey insisted that the merits and timing of the lawsuit were prompt and fully permitted under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. That was the reason why the tribe intended to legally pursue its goal to block Ho-Chunk from expanding in the region.
According to the decision of the federal judge, the Stockbridge-Munsee should have started the legal action before 2014. This was the year when the six-year statute of limitations for casino opening ended. Now, under the Judge Peterson’s ruling, Ho-Chunk tribe was dismissed from the lawsuit.
The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe, on the other hand, says that Judge Peterson’s ruling in favour of the Ho-Chunk Nation misapplies a six-year statute of limitation to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The tribe insists that the order of the federal judge could limit not only the state’s ability to enforce local Indian tribes compacts but also the National Indian Gaming Commission’s ability as well.
The federal judge said that he would rule later on the Stockbridge-Munsee’s claim against the state of Wisconsin. Judge Peterson also said that he would provide the state with the opportunity to decide whether to also pursue the timeliness issue the way Ho-Chunk Nation did.