Gov. Scott Walker REJECTS plan to build Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Kenosha

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KENOSHA (WITI) -- Gov. Scott Walker has rejected a plan by the Menominee Tribe to build an $800 million Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Kenosha.

"I have informed the Federal Governenment's Bureau of Indian Affairs that I am not approving the application for a casino in Kenosha," said Walker.

With that announcement, 18 months of negotiations and the hope to bring a multi-million dollar Hard Rock Casino and entertainment complex to Kenosha, with 10,000 jobs, tourism and promise of large community investment, is over.

"There were more than 100 million reasons why we had to make this decision," said Walker.

A compact between the Forest County Potawatomi which operates Milwaukee's casino and then Governor James Doyle, could mean the state would be on the hook to pay back the Potawatomi for revenue lost due to competition if the Kenosha casino went through.

The state would also have to pay back more than $100 million in money the Potawatomi has given to the state for exclusivity.

"I cannot put the taxpayers of this state on the hook of losing about $100 million or more now and potentially more in the future," said Walker.

There was talk of the Menomonee Tribe agreeing to pick up some of the costs, but Walker says he was looking for a legal guarantee that the state would not be stuck. That just wasn't there.

What else could come into play? Could it be the possibility he may run for president? Walker says his decision was not political but strictly economical.

"Obviously the 800 pound gorilla was right here with the Forest County Potawatomi and we held out hope if we took enough time that there may be a way for them to say if you can help us mitigate losses to them and their operations, there might be a way for them to sign off on their agreement that would not put the state at risk," said Walker.

Is there anything that could be done at this point to revive the Kenosha caisno proposal?

The governor says he thought that would not be possible on this casino application. If there was any possibility of that, there would have to be a new application and they would have to start from scratch.

The governor's office released the following in a statement late on Friday morning:

Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker

“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. Due to the compacts negotiated by Governor Doyle, the current cost to taxpayers of approving the proposed casino project is up to $100 million and the long-term economic hit to the state budget would be a potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We have had tremendous success in helping grow quality, family-supporting jobs in Kenosha, including the recent Amazon, InSinkErator, and Meijer Distribution Inc. expansions.  We remain committed to using state resources effectively to continue growing the economy and creating jobs in Kenosha and around the state.”

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Menominee NationThe Menominee Indian Tribe is expressing disappointment over Gov. Walker's decision. 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.

Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock Internationalm issued the following statement over this decision:

"We believe Hard Rock and Menominee stepped up to every challenge and then some. This is terribly sad news for the 8,958 members of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin."

Enough Already WisconsinBrian Nemoir, Executive Director of Enough Already! WI, issued this statement:

“Today Gov. Walker made the right decision after an exhaustive review in determining that the risks created by the proposed Kenosha Casino to the taxpayers of Wisconsin was too great.

"In 2004 then-Gov. Jim Doyle signed a compact that could put taxpayers at risk for hundreds of millions if a Kenosha Casino were to be built. In the end, Wisconsin is well-served by the difficult decision Gov. Walker made to protect taxpayers.”

Forest County PotawatomiThe Forest County Potawatomi released the following statement on Gov. Walker's decision:

"Governor Walker and his Administration gave the Kenosha casino project a thorough review, and we agree with his determination that this project is not in the best interest of Wisconsin."

Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman issued this statement in the wake of the governor's decision:

“Obviously, I’m very disappointed. I’m disappointed at the loss of all those construction jobs. And the loss of jobs at the casino. I’m also disappointed for the tribe. They’ve worked so hard on this project.”

The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs took more than nine years to review the proposed casino project. For over a year, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch conducted a comprehensive economic analysis of the potential impact of the proposed casino project. In an ideal scenario, jobs could have been created by the casino, the reality of Governor Doyle’s compacts with the tribes open the State of Wisconsin up to significant litigation risk, which would put state taxpayers on the hook for up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a report to Governor Walker, Secretary Huebsch explained the outstanding issues facing the proposed casino, which could have had a devastating impact on the state budget:

Although the Kenosha casino could result in these positive economic benefits, approval also comes with substantial and significant risks.  Our analysis shows taxpayers could lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars of tribal revenue sharing payments as a result of the compact negotiated by Governor Jim Doyle. Due to the legal exposure created by the Doyle compacts, beyond just losing future revenue, approving the Kenosha casino could require taxpayers to pay FCPC [Forest County Potawatomi Community] hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds of previous payments made to the State.  If the Kenosha casino is approved, there are a number of other issues that should be considered:

  • Impact of possible expanded gaming in northern Illinois
  • Menominee’s use of more than 220 acres that would likely be put in trust
  • Cost of litigation
  • Consequences of a delayed casino opening
  • Immediate and long-term impact on our state budget and consequently Wisconsin taxpayers
  • Cost of indemnifying FCPC

You can read through the entire report from Secretary Huebsch by CLICKING HERE.

CLICK HERE to read more about the proposed Kenosha casino project.

34 comments

  • Al R.

    I believe Walker should have approved it. Now my question is, what if the tribe build this casino in Gurnee, Ill with Governor Rauner’s approval? I can see more and more Wisconsin citizen’s/tax payers will drive to Gurnee for it. This is just like we do for everything else from the Mall to Six Flags. Just another reason to give Wisconsin citizens not to help out our own revenue but instead give it to a neighboring state.

    • Tammy

      I believe Walker made the right decision. Jim Doyle’s plan was poorly thought out. Wisconsin ranks pretty high in alcoholism and obesity, would you also like to add gambling addiction. The casino may create jobs in the beginning but in the end it will drain our community, and they will not build a casino in Gurnee since they already have Rivers in Des Plaines–it would never pass.

      • Jeff

        Are you a drunk fat woman that is afraid you might get addicted to gambling also? Bottom line is Walker is being paid by the other tribe to not vote on it..they will be his backers for the presidential race and I would have voted for him until he did this now he can rot in hell for all I care!

    • Jonathan

      Illinois state law has a limit on how big they can build their casinos. If they build one in Gurnee, it would be about the same size as the one in Des Plaines, which isn’t very big and definitely not the magnet or attraction that the Kenosha proposal would have been. So there isn’t much incentive to travel down there to gamble when Potowatomi is still here.

  • Tony

    The affects of having democrats like diamond jim doyle in office are long term. Diamond jim is still hurting Wisconsin.

  • Cheryl

    All stems from previous Governor Doyle’s compact he made with the tribes. I never thought for one minute that Governor Walker could approve it – to much on us the taxpayer!

  • Kathy

    I TOTALLY AGREE!!! I just cut up my card to their casino and the one up north in Carter and stuck in an envelope and sent it back to them. They should be boycotted! I will NEVER set foot in another one of their casino’s again. I will gladly give my money to Iowa or Illinois.

  • GH

    The reason I feel that the casino was rejected is that the Potawatomi STILL did not give approval and maybe even Ho-Chunk as well. The proposal had clearly stated that ALL Wisconsin tribes had to approve and at least one did not. If you want Poto to change, stay away, I cant tell you how many times I’ve heard that in the past 16 months. Yet every friday and saturday night they are packed to the gills. Also it helps to do research before you spout off with comments. Every year the casino raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for children’s charities. They have great benefits for their workers and do good for our community.

  • Tina

    Funny how Ohio tells him they won’t back his presidential campaign if he agrees to the casino. Yet once again taking thousands of jobs away from his state. He was told Doyles

  • George

    Glad to see this was finally shut down. We don’t need more casinos. If the ultimate reason was decided because of Doyle, then thanks Jim for protecting WI from having another casino!

  • calm down

    It’s actually quite simple. Doyle, for whatever reasons he had then, negotiated a compact with the Potawatomi. Walker had to take his time to investigate all aspects of the proposed casino. Not only did he have to look at the economic impact alone, he had to determine – If he were to agree to the Kenosha casino, what the impacts and repercussions of Doyle’s compact would be. (i.e when they sue, will it hold up in the court of law). So now that he has discovered the repercussions, unfortunately he learned it would impact us taxpayers too much and felt it wasn’t worth the risk. Personally I really think people’s affiliation to a certain political party is a moot point and shows the ignorance people have regarding the facts surrounding the proposed casino.

  • Idiots

    Bob, I see you can make statement claiming Walker is wrong without any supporting evidence. I can make random statements all day long, but without any supporting evidence they mean nothing.

  • Fl Senior

    Is this all “tribal and politics’? All we Seniors want are FL CASINO’S for entertainment, without taking our money out of state to other facilities. PLEASE, BUILD MORE CASINO’S!! We are foolish to let JOBS AND TAX REVENUES go to other States. Is this all about the pacK signed with the Seminole Indians?

  • Fl Senior

    I feel like a dummy…but didn’t know who this DOYLE was…googled him…I WOULDN’T WANT HIM ANYWHERE IN POLITICS BASED ON HIS VIEWS. JMO!
    Jim Doyle
    Former Governor of Wisconsin
    James Edward “Jim” Doyle is a Wisconsin politician and member of the Democratic Party. He was the 44th Governor of Wisconsin, serving from January 6, 2003 to January 3, 2011. Wikipedia
    Born: November 23, 1945 (age 69), Washington, D.C.
    Previous office: Governor of Wisconsin (2003–2011)
    Party: Democratic Party

  • Patrick Redmond

    why not just open a hard rock hotel on the site and let the casino open in illinois. this way everybodys happy..

Comments are closed.