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Judge orders Ho-Chunk and state to arbitration over gambling profits

A federal judge wants an arbitrator to decide if the Ho-Chunk Indians must pay the state millions in gambling profits.

Judge Barbara Crabb of Madison has ordered a second arbitration into the long-running dispute.

The first was in 2005, when the terms of state's gaming agreement with the tribe were at issue.

Now, state officials say the Ho-Chunk owes about $100 million that other tribes have paid under new gambling agreements Gov. Jim Doyle signed in 2003. The Ho-Chunk said its deal was diminished greatly when the State Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that Doyle did not have the authority to approve agreements that never end.

The main party in the suit, the Potawatomi, later agreed to a 25-year deal, much longer than the previous five years.

The tribe's Anne Thundercloud says her group is eager to get the dispute resolved, even though they're back to where they were a couple years ago with the arbitration process.

The Ho-Chunk has paid $30 million to the state in good faith.

State officials say the remaining money would go a long way to help solve the state's budget problems which got worse last Friday when the Supreme Court told the state to pay millions in sales tax refunds to companies that bought custom business software.