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Lac du Flambeau Chippewa tribe expanding business over the Internet

VILAS COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - While the proposed Menominee tribal casino in Kenosha is debated, another tribe in northern Wisconsin is quietly using the Internet to expand its business.  

The Lac du Flambeau Chippewa tribe, based in Vilas County, has launched three Internet payday lending companies -- two of which went online this month. They've also been creating the infrastructure for an online casino.

It uses play money now -- but tribal president Tom Maulson tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a, "flip of the switch" could make it use real money when the opportunity presents itself. It could happen sooner than later for Web connections within the tribe's boundaries.  

Lac du Flambeau business development director Brent McFarland says the tribe is looking for ways to leverage its sovereignty in a responsible way -- and the Internet provides tremendous opportunities.  

The Lac du Flambeau has joined about two dozen other tribes around the country in offering Internet payday lending, and the Tribal Internet Gaming Alliance is working to start a multi-tribal casino online.  

Maulson's tribe is hoping for a turnaround of its financial fortunes. Three years ago, the tribe defaulted on a $50 million bond -- and the move is still being challenged in court.  

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)