Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe Withholds Gaming Funds from Wisconsin
Back in early March, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians promised to withhold a payment in excess of $900,000 from the state of Wisconsin as a result of their belief that the state violated the Tribal/State gaming compact. Recently, they made good on that promise. The payment due date of Friday, June 30, has passed.
The Tribe says that Wisconsin violated their deal by allowing the $33 million expansion of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s facility in Wittenberg. Construction on the new site broke ground last September despite opposition from the Stockbridge-Munsee and Menomi-nee Indian Tribes.
Did Wisconsin Violate a Pact?
The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe says that the 1992 Class III gaming compact was amended in 2003 with a requirement that the tribe share a larger chunk of the gaming revenues in exchange for the assurance from the state that another tribe would not operate games. It says so in the Section 20 Exception of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
Until the dispute with Wisconsin is resolved, the Tribe believes it has the ability within its gaming compact to withhold the payment. So, they will do just that. The money is reportedly being held in an escrow account.
The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to stop the aforementioned $33 million expansion. They argue that governing small casinos like the facility in Wittenberg violates state law. The Wisconsin Department of Administration siding with the Ho-Chunk Nation side of the argument reportedly prompted the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe to take legal action.
Stockbridge-Munsee Stands to Lose Millions
The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe commissioned an economic impact study that found that the tribe’s North Star Mohican Casino and Resort in Shawano County could lose as much as $22 million in machine revenue if that other expansion gets completed. If the expansion goes through, the Ho-Chunk Nation will operate half of Wisconsin’s 10 largest casinos. On the other hand, the Stockbridge-Munsee operate just a single gaming facility in Bowler, which is Wisconsin’s largest employer in the county. That alone accounts for 96 percent of Stockbridge-Munsee’s earned revenue.
Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg is 17 miles closer to Wausau than the Stockbridge-Munsee facility.
The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe President, Shannon Holsey, said, “It’s difficult for us, because our casino is the only casino in the state that’s not on a major highway or a major through-way. We have to be creative about how we attract and retain, but at the end of the day, we want to be the casino of choice regardless of what is happening.”
In April, the Ho-Chunk Nation accused the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe of slander and described the lawsuit as “frivolous.”
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