Monday, January 10, 2005

Supreme Court won't hear casino appeal

By STEVE SCHULTZE
Posted: Jan. 10, 2005
A long quest to establish an Indian casino at the site of a defunct dog track in Hudson was dealt another blow Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the matter.

Three northern Wisconsin tribes were appealing a lower-court ruling that rejected the tribes challenge of a governor's veto power over off-reservation casino deals. The U.S. Appeals Court in Chicago ruled last year that former Gov. Scott McCallum was acting within his legal power in 2001 when he vetoed a plan to convert the track to a casino.
The tribes had claimed that McCallum had unconstitutionally exceeded his authority by rejecting a plan that had already gotten federal approval. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, without commenting on its reasons.
The tribes - Red Cliff, Lac Courtes Oreilles and Mole Lake Chippewa - had created a partnership to buy the former St. Croix Meadows greyhound track to covert it to casino. All three tribes operate small casinos on their reservations, but had hoped to expand to Hudson because of its proximity to the huge Twin Cities market some 20 miles away.
Red Cliff tribal Chairman Ray DePerry said, "That just ruined my day," when told of the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case. He said tribal leaders and Fred Havenick, the owner of the Hudson track, would need to confer to decide whether to make a new application for an off-reservation casino.
"I would still like to pursue some off-reservation gaming," DePerry said, noting his tribe's casino at the northwest tip of Wisconsin provided only a small revenue stream. "Our on-reservation casino just isn't doing it," he said.
The 1988 federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act gave governors authority to pass judgment on tribes' application to have off-reservation land held in federal trust for casinos. In Wisconsin and many other states, casino gambling is illegal except on Indian land.
Havenick, who has bankrolled the court case, closed the dog track in 2001 after sustaining some $32 million in losses.
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