“As our only gaming facility, the North Star Mohican Casino Resort is the economic lifeblood for our Tribe and hundreds of Shawano County families. Nearly 500 letters from concerned tribal members, employees, Shawano County residents and other tribal nations have been sent to the Governor and his administration requesting gaming compacts be fairly enforced and the unlawful Wittenberg expansion be stopped, with no response,” said Holsey. “We have tried to resolve these issues directly; now we are being forced to pursue all legal remedies available to protect our 1,200 tribal members, hundreds of employees and the various local organizations who rely on our support, such as the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department, area towns and municipalities, the Bowler and Gresham School Districts, and local parks departments.
Fueled through gaming revenue from its one casino, the Stockbridge-Munsee broke ground in late 2016 on a new $1.3 million retail center near Highways 29 and 22 in Shawano, the only strip mall near a major highway between Wittenberg and Green Bay. In February 2017, the Tribe opened a new $1.7 million elderly care center. In addition, the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe contributes:
- More than $25.8 million in gross wages for employees of the Mohican North Star Casino Resort, Tribal Government, Pine Hills Golf Course and Little Star Convenience Store
- Nearly $3 million to city and county road projects since 2010 (with $1.2 million in the pipeline)
- More than $100,000 each year in funding to the area’s two largest school districts
- More than $200,000 each year to support neighboring communities and other Wisconsin Indian tribes
This is now all at grave and unnecessary risk, with the self-sustainability and broader economic impact of the Stockbridge-Munsee and a number of tribes put into serious question.
Call for Fair Enforcement:
As previously announced, The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians and other tribes are calling upon Governor Walker and his Administration to fairly enforce state gaming compacts for all tribes. For decades, the State has placed clear restrictions on the size, number and nature of gaming facilities across the state, establishing a distinction between full-scale casinos and much smaller ancillary facilities. However, in a perplexing and surprising reversal on its past position, the State is allowing the Ho-Chunk Nation to broadly reinterpret its compact terms so that it can turn its ancillary gaming facilities into full-scale casino-resorts.
According to the State’s own definition, an ancillary gaming facility is restricted in both size and scope in order to clearly differentiate it from a full-scale casino. First, the non-gaming business (such as a gas station) and the gaming business must be located in the same building. Second, the gaming business must generate less than 50 percent of the combined facility’s net revenue. Finally, the non-gaming portion of the building must be physically larger than the gaming portion of the building. Neither the Ho-Chunk’s current Wittenberg facility nor its planned expansion adheres to those terms.
Moreover, longstanding questions persist regarding whether the Ho-Chunk Nation may lawfully operate any gaming facility on its lands in Shawano County. The refusal of State and Federal regulators to enforce the land restrictions on Indian gaming on the Ho-Chunk Nation’s land in Wittenberg essentially allows any tribe to operate any type of gaming on any land it wants.
If the unlawful expansion of the Ho-Chunk Wittenberg ancillary facility is allowed to continue, all tribal/State gaming compacts will be rendered meaningless, destabilizing Wisconsin’s carefully negotiated gaming environment, increasing the likelihood of widespread and costly litigation, and creating uncertainty about the future of State tribal gaming revenues.
The in-progress $27 million expansion of the Ho-Chunk Wittenberg ancillary facility includes 750 slot machines, a new high-limit gaming area, 10 table games, an 86-room hotel and conference center facility, and an 84-seat restaurant/bar. While still being called an “ancillary facility,” it will in fact become one of the State’s top 10 casinos.
About the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe
The Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Tribe is one of 11 tribes in Wisconsin and has approximately 1,470 tribal members throughout the state, 34 percent of whom live on the Tribe’s reservation in Shawano County. The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe is the largest employer in Shawano County and operates the North Star Mohican Casino Resort, which features 1,200 slot machines and 22 table games. The Tribe is committed to being a good steward of economic, environmental and intellectual resources in the region and strongly believes in the power of education. Each year, the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe contributes more than $100,000 in funding to the area’s two largest school districts and more than $200,000 to support neighboring communities and other Wisconsin Indian tribes. For more information about the Tribe, visit the website at http://www.mohican.com/ or the tribal Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/smcmohican/.