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Judge dismisses Ho-Chunk Nation from lawsuit over Wittenberg casino expansion

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A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed the Ho-Chunk Nation from a lawsuit by a rival tribe protesting the expansion of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Wittenberg casino, saying the lawsuit was filed at least three years too late.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson said that the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, who had sought a preliminary injunction blocking slot machines and table games in the expansion of the Ho-Chunk casino in Wittenberg, should have filed its lawsuit before 2014, the end of a six-year statute of limitations.

The Stockbridge-Munsee have known about gaming compact violations it alleges were committed by the Ho-Chunk since the Ho-Chunk opened a casino there in 2008, he wrote.

Since 1992, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band has operated the North Star Casino Resort about 20 miles east of Wittenberg and feared that an expansion of the Ho-Chunk casino would hurt its profits. The Ho-Chunk plan to add more than 200 slot machines, 10 gaming tables, a hotel, a restaurant and a bar at the site.

Wittenberg is about 25 miles east of Wausau, in Shawano County.

The project is about 85 percent complete. The gaming floor will open on Nov. 1, with the hotel and the rest of the project to be finished in February.

According to Peterson’s decision, the Stockbridge-Munsee say the Ho-Chunk casino in Wittenberg violates the Ho-Chunk gaming compact because the land where it is located was acquired in trust after October 1988, making it ineligible for gaming.

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