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Gov. Walker Rejects Proposal for Menominee Tribe’s Kenosha Casino

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Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) has denied the request of the Menominee Tribe to open an off-reservation, $800 million casino in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported. The project faced opposition from the Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk Tribes, who said that the casino would be competitive with their existing casino operations. The Menominee Tribe has sought approval for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Kenosha for more than a decade.

In 2005, former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle signed a compact with the Potawatomi Tribe, which allowed the tribe to be reimbursed for any loss of business resulting from approval of the Kenosha casino proposal. The Menominee Tribe said that they were prepared to make a $200 to $250 million bond to cover any losses incurred by the competing tribes, according to a news report from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA), and Indianz.com.

On Thursday, January 22, the Associated Press reported that the Forest County Potawatomi filed a lawsuit in D.C. federal court saying that their gambling compact with Wisconsin requires the state to reimburse the tribe for any losses linked to a Kenosha casino. State officials, including Gov. Walker, also expressed concern that its taxpayers might be on the hook for that reimbursement. "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," Walker, said in a news release – explaining one reason why he rejected the proposal.

"It is our belief that this project would have improved the lives of the nearly 9,000 members of the Tribe," Laurie Boivin, the Menominee Tribe's chairwoman, wrote in a statement on Facebook. "Instead, one tribe — the Forest County Potawatomi — and one goal of Governor Walker — the presidency — has led to a no for our people."

ABC News's WKOWreported that the Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk Tribes had mixed reactions to Gov. Walker's decision. The Ho-Chunk Nation's Legislature Representative David Greendeer said, "Our strategies have always been the same. Our plans have always been the same. We just want to be able to deliver the best services for our people. And do the best job with the industries we run right now."

The Potawatomi Tribe released this statement, "Gov. Walker and his administration gave the Kenosha Casino project a throrough review and we agree with his determination that this project is not in the best interest of Wisconsin."