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Report shows increased state support for proposed Kenosha casino project

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Hard Rock International announced a partnership in July to relaunch efforts to build the casino in Kenosha, the Milwaukee Business Journal reports.
Posted at 9:30 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 22:30:53-04

A new report found that the state's liability to the proposed Kenosha casino project was reduced compared to previous discussions in 2015, according to our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal.

The reduced liability was a result of the 2018 gaming compact amendment. The amendment reduces the state's liability if a casino opens within 30 to 50 miles of Milwaukee's Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, the BizJournal reports. The Forest County Potawatomi Community claimed in a 2015 lawsuit that the state would need to refund the tribe $243 million if the casino project was approved for the former Dairyland Greyhound Park site, according to the BizJournal. However, due to the gaming compact amendment, an analysis claimed Wisconsin wouldn't have to provide a refund.

"The LRB analysis of the 2018 compact amendment also noted that the Potawatomi cannot legally withhold annual state payments until it proves actual losses as a result of a casino within 30 to 50 miles of the Milwaukee casino. However, the Potawatomi could place disputed payments into an escrow account pending a final, legal determination, according to the 2018 compact amendment," the Kenosha delegation said in a news release.

The Legislative Reference Bureau Report was released by Wisconsin Sens. Van Wanggard and Bob Wirch. The senators said there are four other proposed casino projects beyond the 50-mile radius. This includes Waukegan, Beloit, Chicago, and Rockford, as well as a casino already in Hammond, Indiana.

According to the BizJournal, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Hard Rock International announced a partnership in July to relaunch efforts to build the casino in Kenosha. The previous proposal was an $800 million project on the 221-acre former Dairyland Greyhound Park, but it was rejected in 2015 by former Gov. Scott Walker.

The BizJournal reports the new proposal would be reduced, on 60 acres less than a mile away from the former park and it still needs to be approved. The state governor would have the final approval.

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin chairman Ron Corn said in a statement the new report shows more reasons to support the proposed project with the new partnership.

"The financial risk in green-lighting this project is significantly less than it was in 2015, and the benefits to the state, to Kenosha and to the Menominee are considerable," Corn said in the statement. “If approved, the Kenosha casino will help attract more visitors to Kenosha who will spend more money locally, help create more jobs and make Kenosha a destination to enjoy big name entertainment."

Corn said it would also bring great value to the Menominee tribe since it is both one of the largest tribes in the state and one of the poorest. Corn noted the economic development would improve and expand tribal members' health care and education, as well as fight poverty, hunger, and unemployment on the reservation.

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