HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 20Issue 25Wisconsin Governor Reviewing Kenosha Casino Proposal

On Tuesday, August 26, 2014, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued a letter and memorandum stating that his administration is cautiously moving forward in its review of a potential tribal casino to be located in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The casino would be operated by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (“Menominee”), which had land placed into trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in August of last year for the project.

The letter notes that the Governor’s office is “moving forward with legitimate caution” in its review of the proposed gaming facility, citing the potential effects on state revenue from other tribal operations in the state. According to the letter and the accompanying memorandum from the Secretary of the Department of Administration (“Secretary”), state compacts with tribes that have existing casinos in the state contain language that would require the state to “potentially indemnify, or offset losses based on the establishment of a new casino.” Accordingly, the administration is seeking additional analysis from special counsel and economists on how an approval of the Kenosha casino would fiscally impact the state under its existing payment structures with other tribes.

The Menominee’s proposal in Kenosha is opposed by the Ho-Chunk Nation, which claims that the proposed casino would be operated on the Nation’s traditional lands. Although the Secretary’s memorandum states that the Ho-Chunk Nation’s compact has a clear process to address the issue of a new casino in the area, the project would result in lower revenue sharing payments to the state and potentially require an annual legislative appropriation “to cover additional losses beyond Ho-Chunk Nation’s annual revenue sharing payments.”

The state has noted that two other Native American tribes with gaming compacts would also be affected: the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the Forest County Potawatomi. The Lac du Flambeau have reportedly waived their claims related to revenue sharing provisions, while the Potawatomi halted revenue payments to the state in June under the terms of their compact which, as noted in the memorandum, “has already had a significant revenue impact on the State of Wisconsin.”

Governor Walker has until mid-February, 2015 to approve or deny the Kenosha casino. 

 

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