Ho-Chunk Nation v. State of Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, a number of Native American tribes operate casinos. Per federal Indian gaming law, in order to offer Class III gaming (e.g., slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and craps), a tribe typically enters into a Tribal-State gaming compact with a state for the purposes of governing the conduct of such gaming activities.

In 2003, the Tribal-State gaming compact for Wisconsin tribes was amended for the second time. This amendment included a provision that authorized the tribes to conduct new table games not allowed in the original gaming compact. These games included all forms of poker, craps, roulette, keno, wheel of fortune, baccarat, pari-mutuel wagering, and lottery games. In 2004, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this and another provision of the second amendment invalid.

The Ho-Chunk Nation then ceased operation of the new table games and all gaming compact payments to the State as set forth in the original compact and the second amendment thereto. The Tribe sought to negotiate substitute provisions to the second amendment and lower revenue-sharing payments to the state.

After failing to negotiate the issues successfully with the state, the Tribe filed a demand for arbitration. The state filed counterclaims for the Ho-Chunk Nation’s failure to make revenue-sharing payments.

From 2007 through 2008, Alan Meister served as an expert in this matter to analyze whether the loss of the new table games authorized by the second amendment to the compact should affect revenue-sharing payments made by the Ho-Chunk Nation to the State of Wisconsin.

In 2008, after the arbitration was suspended and the table game provision in the second amendment was ruled valid by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the parties reached a settlement, including on past due payments under the second amendment and slightly lower revenue-sharing rates for future payments.

 All Projects