Wisconsin reaches casino deal with Lac du Flambeau

By Scott Bauer
Madison, Wisconsin (AP) 4-09

The Lac du Flambeau Chippewa band has agreed to make $3.7 million in back payments under a new casino agreement it signed with the state during April.

The deal ends a five-year stalemate during which the northern Wisconsin tribe did not pay the state anything for the casino it operates in Lac du Flambeau. It was the only one of 11 tribes in Wisconsin not making payments to the state.

An automatic, five-year extension of the tribe’s compact with the state that began in 2004 did not require annual payments. Their last $738,000 payment was made in July 2003.

The deal announced by the state Department of Administration requires the tribe to pay $3.7 million in back payments, or roughly $740,000 for each of the past five years, and make a supplemental payment of $500,000 over the next decade.

The tribe also will pay $738,000 this year and, starting in 2010, pay a percentage of the casino’s net winnings.

Terms of the agreement are roughly equivalent to deals reached with other tribes, said the department, which is responsible for overseeing tribal casinos.

Department spokeswoman Linda Barth said the state was pleased to reach an agreement with the tribe.

“They are important partners in our state’s future, especially the economic future of northern Wisconsin,” she said.


Lac du Flambeau President Carl Edwards said the deal also increases limits on how much can be bet and expands the number of games the casino can offer. Other tribes reached similar deals with the state in 2003 and 2004.

The expansions will allow the Lac du Flambeau to continue creating jobs and investing in northern Wisconsin, Edwards said.

The casino is now the sixth largest in the state, with roughly 800 slot machines and table games. The tribe hopes to expand beyond that, he said.

The deal is also good news for the state’s budget.

Gov. Jim Doyle’s two-year budget proposal did not assume any money would come from the tribe over the next two years. That means these payments will help the state address it’s roughly $5 billion projected budget shortfall.

The first tribal casino gambling compacts were negotiated in 1991. In 1998, new compacts required additional payments to the state. Every tribe, except the Lac du Flambeau, negotiated with the state again in 2003 and 2004.

When the state and the tribe did not negotiate a new deal, the 1998 compact was automatically extended for five years. That extension did not include a provision requiring the tribe to make payments to the state, according to a 2007 report by the state Audit Bureau.

The state could have prevented the automatic extension by serving the tribe with written notice of non-renewal at least 180 days prior to compact’s expiration, but did not do that, the Audit Bureau said.

The new deal is good for 25 years.

The tribe’s casino, Lake of the Torches, had 809 gaming devices and 14 tables as of October, according to the Fiscal Bureau report.