MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker on Friday
denied the Menominee Nation's request for permission to build an
off-reservation casino in Kenosha, saying approving the project
could leave the state owing a rival tribe hundreds of millions
The decision is devastating for the Menominee, who have been
pushing to build a casino at Kenosha's Dairyland Greyhound Park
dog track for years in hopes the facility would pull the tribe
out of poverty. But the governor said Friday that the state's
compact with the Forest County Potawatomi requires Wisconsin to
refund payments that tribe has made to the state if a Kenosha
casino became a reality.
"After a comprehensive review of the potential economic impact
of the proposed Kenosha casino project, the risk to the state's
taxpayers is too great," Walker said in a news release.
Walker, a Republican mulling a 2016 presidential run, had until
Feb. 19 to make a decision on the casino but chose to release it
Friday, a day before he was scheduled to attend a conservative
summit in Iowa for potential GOP presidential candidates. Walker
told reporters in Milwaukee Friday morning that the timing had
nothing to do with politics.
"If that's the case, I would have shut it down right off the
bat," Walker said.
Menominee Chairwoman Laurie Boivin said in a statement the
project would have improved her people's lives but the
Potawatomi and Walker's presidential aspirations dashed their
Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford said in his own
statement that Walker gave the project a thorough review "and we
agree with his determination that this project is not in the
best interest of Wisconsin."
The Potawatomi have been fiercely opposed to the new casino,
fearing it would siphon profits from their Milwaukee facility
about 30 miles away. The Potawatomi's gambling compact with
Wisconsin mandates the state reimburse the tribe for any losses
linked to a Kenosha casino as well as refund payments the tribe
has made to the state in exchange for the exclusive right to
offer gambling in southeastern Wisconsin. Walker's
administration has estimated those payments could run into the
hundreds of millions of dollars.
The tribe also has argued it wouldn't have to make any future
payments to the state if the new casino went through since their
guarantee of exclusivity would be gone. The Potawatomi has
already withheld $25 million from the state out of concerns
Wisconsin would end up owing the tribe if the governor approved
the new casino. Potawatomi spokesman George Ermert didn't
immediately respond to an email inquiring about whether the
tribe would now pay the state that money.
The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs earlier this month nixed a
deal between the Potawatomi and the state that would have
established the financial terms for reimbursement, however,
raising questions about whether the state remains on the hook.
The Potawatomi have filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C.,
challenging the BIA's ruling.
The Menominee and the state brokered a new compact that called
for the Menominee to pay the state 7.5 percent of its annual
winnings and cover revenue losses if the Potawatomi stopped
paying. But state Department of Administration Secretary Mike
Huebsch warned the governor in a memo this week that the deal
wouldn't cover back payments. On Thursday the Menominee
announced they were seeking to post a bond ranging between $200
million and $250 million to protect the state.
Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, a Kenosha
Democrat, said Walker's decision would cost thousands of jobs
and millions of tourists. A lawyer whom Walker's administration
hired to handle the Menominee's request commissioned an
independent study that found the new casino would hurt the
Potawatomi and the Ho-Chunk Nation, another Wisconsin tribe that
runs its own casinos and opposed the Menominee plan, as well as
the counties in which they operate. But the report concluded
that the Kenosha facility would generate an overall positive
economic impact for the entire state.
"I think the governor failed basic economics," Barca said. "He
should be coming to Kenosha and Racine this weekend and talking
with us about how to make up for this colossal mistake rather
than flying to Iowa."
disappointment in casino decision
KESHENA, Wis. — The
Menominee Indian Tribe is expressing disappointment over Gov.
Scott Walker's decision against a proposed casino in Kenosha.
Tribal chairwoman Laurie Boivin said in a statement Friday that
the project would have improved the lives of the nearly 9,000
tribal members. The chairwoman says that instead, one tribe —
the Forest County Potawatomi — and Walker's presumed
presidential aspirations derailed the project.
Boivin says the tribe will meet with Hard Rock International in
the next few days to discuss their options. The tribe and Hard
Rock wanted to build an $800 million casino complex at the
former Dairyland dog track.
The Potawatomi operate a casino in nearby Milwaukee. Walker has
not announced that he's running for president.
Hard Rock says
decision against casino 'sad news'
KENOSHA, Wis. — The developer of the Menominee Nation's
proposed Kenosha casino says they've met every challenge
confronting the project — and then some.
Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen says Gov. Scott
Walker's decision against the casino is "terribly sad news" for
the nearly 9,000 Menominee tribal members.
Hard Rock would have financed and managed the Menominee casino
complex. Hard Rock International is owned by the Seminole Tribe
of Florida. It expected to make more than $200 million over
seven years as manager and developer of the casino.
Walker says casino rejection not
based on politics
MILWAUKEE — Gov. Scott Walker says his decision to reject
a proposal to build a new $800 million casino in Kenosha is not
based on politics or impact on his potential presidential run,
but what is best for taxpayers in the state.
Walker announced Friday that he was rejecting a Menominee Tribe
proposal to build the facility. Walker says there was no way to
reach a deal with the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, and the
state could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to
the tribe required under a previously negotiated compact.
Walker made the announcement the day before he was to speak at a
conservative forum in Iowa that attracts other potential 2016
Walker says the timing of his announcement was not related to
his Iowa trip.