Wisconsin v. Ho-Chunk Nation, No. 14-2529 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Wisconsin’s Governor has entered into gaming compacts with all of the state’s tribes (Wis. Stat. 14.035). The HoChunk Nation adopted an ordinance, authorizing Class I and Class II gaming on its lands. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2703(6), (7), (8), defines Class I gaming as social games and traditional Indian gaming, regulated exclusively by tribes; Class II gaming includes bingo and certain nonbanked card games (players compete against one another rather than against the house) that are authorized by state laws. Class III gaming is a residual category, regulated under tribal-state compacts. A 2008 agreement between the state and the Nation does not restrict Class II gaming. Since 2010, the Nation has offered nonbanked electronic poker at Ho-Chunk Madison. Wisconsin sought an injunction to stop the poker, which, if classified as Class III would violate the Nation’s compact with the state. The district court ruled that the poker was a Class III game. The Seventh Circuit reversed. States may not prohibit a tribe from offering gaming that is roughly equivalent to what the state allows for its residents. A state must criminalize a gambling activity in order to prohibit the tribe from engaging in it. Wisconsin decriminalized nonbanked poker in 1999. IGRA does not permit interference with Class II poker on tribal land.