October 2, 2014

Time running out for Kenosha casino

Southeastern Wisconsin lawmakers are holding out hope that a deal can be reached to help win approval for the Menominee tribe’s proposed Kenosha casino.

The governor has set a deadline of this coming Tuesday for Menominee officials to make their case supporting the project, which Walker says must create no new net gaming, have community support, and have consensus among the state’s 11 tribes. The Oneida tribe announced this week it is now backing the project, although the Ho-Chunk and Forest County Potawatomi remain opposed.

State Representative Peter Barca, a Kenosha Democrat, says it’s a vital project for the region and Governor Walker should be showing the “leadership that’s necessary to bring people together and to get to yes.” Barca says Walker should bring tribal leaders in, lock the door, and sit right there with them to help them find a way to make the project benefit every tribe in Wisconsin. The governor did meet with tribal officials on Wednesday.

AUDIO: Rep. Peter Barca (:16)

The Menominee and their supporters say the casino could create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in revenue for the region. The Potawatomi, which operate their own casino in the Milwaukee area, say the Kenosha project could force them to cut jobs because of lost revenue. The Ho-Chunk nation, which also operates major casinos in the state, has voiced similar concerns.

State Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake) says the proposed casino has great potential, especially now that the Hard Rock name is attached to the project. “It really is a great compliment to our area” and the Hard Rock involvement changes the proposal into a “world class entertainment venue” that will attract people from across the Midwest.

Governor Walker has the final decision on if the project can move forward, after the Bureau of Indian Affairs gave its approval earlier this year. Walker has indicated he plans to act quickly, once the Tuesday deadline has been reached.