Wisconsin tribe preparing to take Project Forward fight to court
In Wisconsin, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians is reportedly preparing to file a lawsuit against the rival Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe and its $153 million plan to expand a trio of local casinos.
According to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, which runs the North Star Mohican Casino and Resort near the small Shawano County town of Bowler, has filed paperwork in federal court in a prelude to the initiation of a full legal action against the Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe and its Project Forward casino expansion scheme.
The federally-recognized Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe operates Ho-Chuck Gaming-branded casinos in the Wisconsin communities of Tomah, Madison, Nekoosa, Wisconsin Dells, Black River Falls and Wittenberg and its Project Forward, which was first announced in August before being put into practice a month later, is set to see the latter three venues expanded.
However, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band Of Mohican Indians’ sole casino is located only 16 miles from the Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg facility and the small tribe claimed in January that the planned $33 million expansion of this facility would result in it losing about 37% of its annual gaming revenues to the tune of about $22 million a year.
Before this, October saw the Stockbridge-Munsee Band Of Mohican Indians, which last month announced plans to withhold a revenue-sharing payment worth $923,000 in protest at the state’s support for Project Forward, declare that the coming expansion violates the Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe’s compact because it would lead to more than 50% of revenues at the Wittenberg venue coming from gaming.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the initial filing in a Madison court by the Stockbridge-Munsee Band Of Mohican Indians ensures it can be represented in any future action by attorneys Bryan Newland of Michigan and Arizona’s Scott Crowell, although tribal lawyer Dennis Puzz allegedly called the action a “preliminary step” before revealing that no final decision had yet been made.
Puss reportedly explained that the Stockbridge-Munsee Band Of Mohican Indians is continuing to explore other avenues for resolving the dispute including asking the state to hire outside attorneys to review the issue, which is an action that was last month championed by seven local Republican lawmakers including Wisconsin State Senators Rob Cowles, Tom Tiffany, Sheila Harsdorf and Jerry Petrowski.