Two sides of Kenosha casino debate make push in Madison

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MADISON (WITI) -- Members of the Menominee Tribe are in Madison on Tuesday, November 5th to urge Gov. Scott Walker to approve a proposed Kenosha casino.

The Menominee Tribe has partnered with Hard Rock. Officials believe an $800 million casino will benefit Wisconsin.

On Tuesday morning, supporters of the Kenosha casino argued the project could help lift the Menominee tribe out of poverty. Tribal chair Craig Corn said the tribe is "desperate to change the sad human conditions" of poverty. They say they would use the money to improve schools, housing and health care on their reservation.

Tribal legislator Gary Besaw said it's "not a time for pride, it's a time to work together."

Menominee children are in Madison Tuesday to put a face on the reservation's poverty -- and the help casino money could bring.

"Wealthy tribes act like bullies, because they don't want us to have the same thing they give to their kids," said McKayla Putnam, a 5th grader.

Gov. Walker has laid out three criteria for his approval: no overall increase in gambling, consensus among the state’s 11 tribes and community support.

The Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk tribes have repeatedly opposed the Kenosha project. That's despite a Menominee tribe offer promising to cover the estimated $250 million the two tribes could lose if a Kenosha casino was built.

BYVVGs0CUAA2_qyThe opposing tribes believe a new casino will siphon business away from their casinos. They used Al Capone's image to suggest "mobsters" will benefit from the casino. They say a Kenosha casino will erode family and bring crime, gambling and alcohol abuse to their community.

“The fundamental flaws with this application are the long history of corruption associated with the project and the hundreds of millions of dollars that are going to be sent to out-of-state interests,” said George Ermert, Potawatomi spokesperson.

In the end, the Menominee's Craig Corn says he's disappointed the other tribes are standing in the way. He says he wants to work for "a creative solution."

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.