Wisconsin compacts get thumbs-up

Jul 25, 2006 4:49 AM

In a 7-0 vote, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared that the tribal gaming compacts negotiated in 1991-92 are indeed constitutional.

The vote strikes a major victory for the state’s 11 tribes, and in particular, the Potawatomi. The Potawatomi are now free to pursue a $240 million expansion of Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee. The expansion will triple the gaming floor space and double the number of slot machines and table games at the casino.

Additionally, in a 4-3 vote, the court upheld Gov. Jim Doyle’s 2003 re-negotiation of tribal compacts, which lifted limits on numbers of games and hours of operation. In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the governor had no authority to negotiate the new deals, which included Class III games. The new ruling was written by the newest of the court justices, Louis Butler, who happens to have been appointed by Doyle.

The ruling states: "The essence of what is at issue here is whether Wisconsin should break treaties with tribes by walking away from its contractual obligations ”¦ the state must honor its contractual obligations in their entirety."

Assembly Majority Leader Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) wasn’t happy with the decision. He told the Sentinel, "It’s clear this court has chosen to inject its personal political views and overturn any decision that they didn’t like."