Menominee leader says tribe met casino criteria
- Article by: SCOTT BAUER
- Associated Press
- October 23, 2013 - 3:55 PM
MADISON, Wis. — All the conditions for a new casino in Kenosha have been met and Gov. Scott Walker should approve the plan, Menominee tribe and Hard Rock International leaders said Wednesday.
Walker has said he won't approve the $800 million entertainment complex at the old Dairyland Greyhound dog track unless the 10 other tribes in the state agree. The Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi tribes, which already operate lucrative casinos in Wisconsin, have repeatedly stated their opposition to the Menominee's plans.
The governor is expected to announce his decision by the end of the week.
In a meeting with Walker, the Menominee argued that the Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi effectively support the plan because they signed gambling contracts with the state that require each tribe to be made financially whole if it loses money to a new casino. The Menominee have also offered to pay more to the state than their promised 7.5 percent of net winnings so payments from the Potawatomi and the Ho-Chunk would go down.
"We feel we've met the criteria," Menominee Chairman Craig Corn said at a news conference after the meeting.
Both the Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk reiterated their opposition to the project Wednesday.
"The Ho-Chunk Nation has not and will not support Menominee's off reservation casino project in Kenosha," said Ho-Chunk spokesman Collin Price. "We informed Menominee and the state numerous times."
Corn said he thought Walker was "very receptive" to the Menominee's arguments, and that he expects there to be more dialogue with the governor before he announces his decision.
"We demonstrated to the governor that we're sincere about our intentions," said James Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International.
A spokeswoman for Walker's administration issued a statement saying only that the governor and his top aide, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, met with tribal leaders to review the proposal and that he was expected to make his decision by the end of the week.
Under federal law, Walker has final say on whether the casino can open even though the project was approved by the U.S. Department of Interior in August.
Walker established three criteria that must be met before he would approve any casino. In addition to unanimous support among all 11 tribes, he has said the casino must have community support and that there be "no new net gaming." Walker has not defined what that means.
The Menominee argue that a new Kenosha casino will result in "no new net gaming" because it would close a small casino/bingo hall on its reservation in Keshena. And, the tribe argues, there would be no increase in gambling because their new casino would be located at the closed Dairyland Greyhound Park where sanctioned gambling had taken place.
The Menominee have been pushing to open an off-reservation casino in Kenosha for more than 20 years, saying it will help pull their people out of poverty. The Menominee reservation covers all of Menominee County, one of the most economically depressed areas in Wisconsin.
The tribe operates two casinos in Keshena, the county seat. Their revenue is confidential, but the facilities are far smaller than the casinos run by the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Potawatomi, who have the biggest gambling operations in the state.
The Menominee hope a casino in Kenosha would draw more customers from Milwaukee and Chicago and their densely populated suburbs, leading to higher profits. The Potawatomi fear it will draw people away from its casino about 40 miles away in Milwaukee.
The Menominee say the casino would create 3,300 permanent jobs and provide $35 million in annual payments to the state.
© 2013 Star Tribune