The Menominee tribe made a last-minute effort to persuade Gov. Scott Walker to approve its proposed Hard Rock Casino in Kenosha County Tuesday, which was the deadline Walker set to make a decision on the casino.
Gov. Scott Walker said in August that he would not approve of the casino unless all 11 of the state’s tribes endorsed the plan. The Menominee tribe argued it fulfilled Walker’s requirement.
The Ho-Chunk Nation, however, has yet to approve the casino. Collin Price, a public relations officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation, confirmed the Ho-Chunk Nation will not be backing the project.
“There’s nothing that (the Menominee tribe) could do to get the support of the Kenosha project,” Price said. “This is the one issue that we’re not going to waver on, but we still want to be able to help each other out and be there for each other on a lot of other issues.”
Price said one of the major drawbacks to the casino is its location.
“The proposed site for the casino would be in Ho-Chunk’s ancestral lands,” Price said. “It would affect our numerous programs for our veterans and children, as well as other people of our communities if this project went through.”
Price does not know if the casino will ultimately be approved by Walker. Other Wisconsin tribes supported the proposed casino. The Oneida tribe became the most recent tribe to back the proposal for the casino Oct. 18, which is under the Menominee tribe’s control.
Ed Delgado, chairman of the Oneida tribe, said this new casino would be a great financial boost to the Menominee tribe and the surrounding area.
“We believe that it’s good for the Menominee,” Delgado said. “They’re a tribe that lives in one of the poorest counties in the state and they need a lot of help.”
Delgado said not only would the Kenosha casino generate revenue for a tribe that “desperately needs it,” the project would also help his own tribe.
“We have a lot of tribal members who live in that area and it could provide more jobs in that area, including for our own people,” Delgado said.
Price said despite the Ho-Chunk’s lack of support for the project, it is still a mystery as to whether this proposal will ultimately be approved by Walker.
Delgado said this project should be approved because of the benefits it can provide to Wisconsin.
“I would hope it does, not just for the sake of the Menominee, but for the state of Wisconsin,” Delgado said. “If there’s no casino in the Kenosha area, there could very well be a casino that goes up in Northern Illinois that could draw away from Wisconsin.”
The Hard Rock Casino would compete with the Potawatomi Casino, located across the street from Valley Fields on West Canal Street. Potawatomi is currently working on a $97.5 million hotel project, which is expected to open in the spring.
The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously passed a resolution a month ago requesting Walker to oppose the Kenosha casino. Willie Hines, president of the Common Council, argued in a press release that the Kenosha casino would hurt Milwaukee jobs.
“I have watched closely as the governor weighs the arguments surrounding the proposed casino,” Hines said. “With estimates that a casino in Kenosha could cost the Milwaukee area as many as 3,000 jobs, I urge the governor to heed the council’s call.”