KENOSHA (WITI) — Federal officials have approved the proposal for a new casino in Kenosha, however Governor Scott Walker must sign off before plans can move forward.
The Menominee Tribe, set to run the casino, says everyone wins, but there is plenty of opposition coming from Milwaukee.
State and city officials along with leaders of the Menominee Tribe met at Dairyland Greyhound Park, where the casino would stand, on Saturday, August 24th, to discuss the proposal.
“I couldn’t believe it — came very close to bursting into tears,” said Menominee Tribe Vice Chairman Lisa Waukau. “I’ve worked on this project for many years.”
The Menominee say a new casino would provide much-needed money for an impoverished tribe. Supporters estimate it would create about 3,300 permanent jobs and generate more than $19 million a year for Kenosha, Kenosha County and its schools.
“It’s huge. Our annual operating budget is about $72 million a year so an infusion of $5 million certainly allows us to do things we haven’t been able to do recently because of the economic downturn,” said Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has a different view on things.
“Potawatomi provides a lot of jobs here and we don’t want to lose those jobs and that’s our primary concern,” said Barrett.
A statement from Potawatomi reads:
“The Forest County Potawatomi Community remains steadfast in opposition to this Kenosha casino application. Kenosha is squarely within federally recognized ceded territory of the Potawatomi.”
A 2012 study by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute shows that the state’s casino market is at or near saturation — meaning any gains would be “offset by losses in communities that already have casinos.”
The Menominee Tribe says it has commissioned two studies that conclude a Kenosha casino would not hurt Potawatomi.
Governor Walker says there are three things he will consider when making his decision — no new net gaming, community support, and the approval of all 11 sovereign tribes.
Both Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk Tribes have expressed opposition.