August 23. 2013 5:00PM - Last modified: August 23. 2013 5:33PM

Walker will decide if Kenosha casino is built

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn today issued a positive Secretarial Determination to the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin to build an off-reservation casino on a 228-acre parcel in the city of Kenosha.

All eyes in the matter now turn to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The land at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha can be acquired in trust for gaming purposes only if the governor concurs with the federal determination within one year.

Walker issued the following statement after the federal decision was announced: “Given the approval by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for the proposed Menominee casino, we will move forward with evaluating this casino using the criteria previously laid out by my Administration.  The three criteria are: no new net gaming, community support, and consensus among the 11 sovereign nations. As I have discussed with tribal leaders and representatives during my regular quarterly meetings with all the tribes, we will move forward with a 60-day comment gathering period for the tribes following the federal government's approval.  My administration will begin reaching out to tribal representatives ahead of the beginning of the comment period to ensure all the tribes have the opportunity to provide feedback.”

That statement tends to indicate that Walker would reject the Kenosha casino, since a new casino would add “new net gaming,” and it is extremely unlikely that the Menominee Tribe’s casino would receive the support of the Forest County Potawatomi Community, which established the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee 1990.

A new casino in Kenosha would have considerable impact on the Milwaukee casino.

The office of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett issued the following statement regarding today’s federal decision: “Mayor Barrett has long supported the Potawatomi and the tribe’s investments in Milwaukee. The Potawatomi are strong community partners committed to city neighborhoods and to employing Milwaukeeans.  We encourage Gov. Walker to reject this application because of the projected job losses and economic harm it will have on Milwaukee.”

Pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the project gained federal approval by meeting two criteria: 1) It would be in the best interest of the tribe and its members, and 2) It would not be detrimental to the surrounding community.

“After an extensive review of the tribe’s gaming application it was determined that the application satisfies the rigorous standards contained in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,” Washburn said. “The tribe demonstrated that it had an unmet need for economic development to supplement their tribal government services to their members, and a historical connection to the Kenosha area.”

The proposed Kenosha gaming facility would be geographically located between two of the Menominee Tribe’s existing satellite offices in Milwaukee and Chicago. The tribe intends to establish another satellite office at the Kenosha site to provide services to the Menominee tribal members that currently live in the area.

Craig Corn, chairman of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, issued the following statement: “The federal decision tees up 3,300-plus new, good-paying jobs for Wisconsin; more than $35 million in new state revenue annually; more than $19 million in new annual revenue for local governments and schools; and an economically self-sufficient future for a very poor Wisconsin tribe. Governor Walker’s approval will push Wisconsin closer to his goal of 250,000 new jobs, promote free market competition and consumer choice, and demonstrate the Badger State is open for business. That message is even more important now, given recent news that our state is falling far behind the rest of the nation in job growth. “We anticipate that the federal approval will also tee up an increased series of anti-Kenosha attacks by the Forest County Potawatomi, the mysterious front group, ‘Enough!’ and their multimillion-dollar campaign to preserve Potawatomi’s monopoly. The Potawatomi have shown they’ll do, say and spend anything to keep their monopoly. The federal government saw through their ads, lobbyists and dramatic claims of economic devastation, and we think Governor Walker will have the good sense to do so, too. Wisconsin’s economic future is far more important than an unfair monopoly for one tribe. Today is a great day for everyone who cares about jobs and economic success for Wisconsin. We applaud the BIA approval, we applaud the hard work of so many across the state who have supported this project for so long, and we are optimistic about the future. Governor Walker, let’s get the Kenosha project approved and start creating 3,300-plus jobs!”