After winning a major victory in federal court on October 25, the Ho-Chunk Nation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg casino on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
The Ho-Chunk Nation broke ground on a $33 million casino expansion project at its Wittenberg facility in Wisconsin in September 2016. The now completed gaming expansion increases the existing the slot count from 506 to 778, adds a high-limit gaming area, 10 table games and a full-service restaurant and bar with seating for 84. Also part of the multi-million dollar expansion project, in January 2018, a new 86-room hotel will reportedly begin to take reservations.
Commenting on the ceremony, Collin Price, PR officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation said the tribe worked hard to generate excitement, with the opening, for new players. He went on to say “Everyone was really excited and there was just a mob of people rushing in as we opened up the doors,” according to local news station WSAW TV 7.
The expansion project, however, has not been without its detractors, as it has been the subject of litigation in federal court.
In April this year, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker and the Ho-Chunk Nation claiming the state violated its compact with the tribe [Stockbridge-Munsee] by allowing the Ho-Chunk Nation to develop a full-fledged casino rather than the promised “ancillary” facility. The Wittenberg casino is located near the Stockbridge-Munsee’s sole gaming property, Northstar Mohican Casino & Resort, located in Bowler about 25 minutes away. Stockbridge-Munsee leaders fear the Ho-Chunk expansion will cannibalize business from North Star.
The Ho-Chunk Nation, however, prevailed in federal court on Wednesday, October 25 when U.S. District Judge James Peterson dismissed the Ho-Chunk Nation from the suit, finding that the leaders of Stockbridge-Munsee waited too long to initiate the suit against the Ho-Chunk, having only sued in 2017 rather than in 2008 when the Wittenberg casino first opened.
The Stockbridge-Munsee Community, plans to appeal of the decision. The lawsuit is still active, as Judge Petersen did not decide whether the Stockbridge-Munsee’s claims against Gov. Walker and the state of Wisconsin are late as well.
The news agency reports that the newly expanded casino is open for business.