Judge rules against Ho-Chunk Gaming in Madison

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In 2011, a legal battle between Wisconsin and Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison broke out regarding the latter’s electronic poker tables. The state says the tables are Class III games, but the property, which is considered a bingo hall and not a casino, argues they are Class II games.

The classification was important because, according to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, the property was only allowed to offer Class II games. In June, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb sided with the state and ruled Ho-Chunk must stop offering poker on its electronic tables. Poker on traditional tables is considered Class III games.

“The logic of the wording of the amendment is that if there’s no law governing a game in question, it’s against the law to use the game unless the Legislature says otherwise,” said Richard Monette, a UW-Madison law professor and director of the Great Lakes Indian Law Center. “In other words, the amendment says we can’t gamble unless the Legislature says we can. That flies in the face of logic of everything else we do in this state. It’s anti-democratic and anti-Wisconsin.”

Despite the ruling, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison’s poker room, which is comprised solely of electronic tables, remains open as of press time.

— Chad Holloway is a senior news editor for PokerNews. Email him at anteupchad@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter @ChadAHolloway.