Governor Scott Walker continues to weigh the approval of a proposed Kenosha casino and says any decision on the project will likely come close to a rapidly approach deadline.
Walker has until February 19th to either approve or reject the Menominee Tribe’s proposal for a multimillion dollar casino at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park. He’s been reviewing it for over a year, after it won approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the summer of 2013. In a one-on-one interview with WRN on Monday, Walker said his decision “will be pretty close” to the deadline.
The proposed project could bring thousands of jobs to southeastern Wisconsin, drawing in gamblers from the Milwaukee area and from nearby Illinois. The proposal has faced stiff opposition from anti-casino groups and the Forest County Potawatomi, which own an existing casino in Milwaukee. So far, Walker has offered few indications which direction he plans to go when he makes a decision.
Currently, the governor said he’s waiting to hear back from the federal government regarding an arbitrator’s decision from November, which would amend the state’s compact with the Potawatomi. The compact, reached by then-Governor Jim Doyle in 2005, requires the state to refund the tribe up to $100 million if a Kenosha casino is opened. At a time when the state is already facing potential budget shortfalls, Walker said that required payment could result in a “pretty big hole” in the next biennium.
Walker is also concerned about legal action dragging out the process, regardless of which decision he makes. He said there’s no doubt that any decision will be a basis for one side of the issue to go to court. If that happens, he expects a legal battle that could cause even more uncertainty surrounding the future of the proposed casino.