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Kenosha casino supporters reveal details of plan

  • Associated Press
  • May 24, 2014 - 2:35 PM

KENOSHA, Wis. — Supporters of a proposed casino in Kenosha say they are moving ahead with their plans for the $810 million, multi-phase project while they wait for approval from Gov. Scott Walker.

Some plans for the casino were revealed Friday, the Racine Journal Times reported (http://bit.ly/1p2ezRA ). The first phase of construction would include more than 400,000 square feet and feature an entertainment venue and retail space. It would also include 2,700 slot machines, 100 table games and 24 poker games.

A temporary casino at the former Dairyland casino site would be opened while construction of the new facility is underway.

The second phase of the project would feature a hotel, spa and pool, and be completed about four years later, said Jeff Hook, vice president of marketing for Seminole Gaming, which owns Hard Rock International.

The Menominee Tribe has been pushing to open an off-reservation casino for more than 20 years, saying it will help pull their tribal members out of poverty. The tribe wants to open the casino at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park site. It would be operated by Hard Rock International.

"We are ready to get started," Hook said.

Walker's administration has commissioned an independent study on the project and its economic impact on the Kenosha and Menominee tribes, as well as the Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk tribes, which operate other casinos in Wisconsin and oppose the project.

Walker has said he wouldn't approve the casino unless all of the state's 11 tribes agree to it.

The study is expected to be finished this summer. Walker has until Feb. 19 to approve or deny the project.

Even with approval, the project could face lawsuits from opponents, Menominee Kenosha Gaming Authority chairman Gary Besaw said.

George Ermert, spokesman for the Potawatomi, said the tribe believes Walker will reject the casino.

"This is a project that will be developed and managed by a Florida Indian tribe who will take hundreds of millions of Wisconsin money back to Florida," Ermert said in an email.

Supporters say the casino would benefit Racine County, and create 1,400 construction jobs, 3,300 direct permanent jobs and 1,800 indirect jobs.

© 2014 Star Tribune