The Ho-Chunk Nation debuted the initial phase of a $41 million gaming expansion in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, on November 1, 2017. Photo: Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg

Stockbridge-Munsee Band loses lawsuit over rival casino project

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community waited too long to challenge a rival tribe's gaming facility in Wisconsin, a federal judge ruled.

The tribe should have sued within six years of the opening of the Ho-Chunk Nation casino in Wittenberg, Judge James Peterson wrote in a decision on Friday. The facility opened in 2008 so the deadline to file was 2014, he determined.

"Because the Stockbridge-Munsee’s claims against the state also undoubtedly accrued in 2008 and are subject to a six-year limitations period, the court will dismiss them as time-barred," Peterson wrote in the 14-page decision.

The ruling applies to the state of Wisconsin, the last remaining defendant in the lawsuit. Peterson had already come to the same conclusion with respect to the Ho-Chunk Nation, which had been a party in the case, last October.

But the dispute is not quite over. An appeal of the latest decision is already being planned, The Wisconsin State Journal reported.

"We believe the decision is wrong and that each and every day Ho-Chunk conducts gaming at the Wittenberg casino in violation of the compact is a new and continuing violation of the compact," a Stockbridge-Munsee spokeperson told the paper.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Band operates the North Star Casino Resort in Bowler, about 16 miles from Wittenberg. The tribe alleges that the Ho-Chunk Nation's recent expansion harms its facility.

The initial phase of the $41 million Ho-Chunk expansion debuted last November, just days after the judge dismissed the tribe from the case.

As part of a $41 million expansion project, the Ho-Chunk Nation is opening a hotel at its gaming facility in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, on February 12, 2018. Photo: Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg

The Ho-Chunk Nation operates Wittenberg as an "ancillary" facility. According to the tribe's Class III gaming compact, no more than 50 percent of an "ancillary" property can be used for gaming activities.

In addition to a gaming floor, Wittenberg includes a hotel that is scheduled to open on February 12.

Read More on the Story:
Judge dismisses northern Wisconsin tribe's lawsuit against state and gaming rival (The Wisconsin State Journal February 2, 2018)

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