BELOIT, Wis. (AP) - Supporters of a proposed Ho-Chunk casino in Beloit hope the proposal will move more quickly through federal review now that Gov. Scott Walker has decided against the Menominee Nation’s request to build a casino in Kenosha.
City management and Ho-Chunk officials held intermittent talks after the tribe bought 32 acres of city land in 2008, and a deal was reached in 2012. But officials were told that the Beloit application was hung up in Washington for months “in part related to the Menominee project” in Kenosha, Beloit city manager Larry Arft said.
“I’m hopeful that finally getting a decision will now open the door to the Beloit casino application to continue forward in the review process,” Arft told The Janesville Gazette.
On Friday, Walker denied the Menominee Nation’s request for permission to build an off-reservation casino in Kenosha, saying it could leave the state owing a rival tribe millions of dollars.
The Menominee have been pushing for years to build a casino at Kenosha’s Dairyland Greyhound Park dog track, hoping the facility would pull the tribe out of poverty.
But the governor said Friday that the state’s compact with the Forest County Potawatomi requires Wisconsin to refund payments that tribe has made to the state if a Kenosha casino became a reality.
The Ho-Chunk Nation is awaiting a federal decision on its application for a casino in Beloit. Ho-Chunk President Jon Greendeer said Friday the news brings finality to “an incredibly long issue,” but the decision isn’t something he’s celebrating.
The Environmental Impact Statement for the Beloit casino project is currently at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Washington, D.C., and is waiting for approval from the office before being sent back to the regional BIA office in Minnesota.
Greendeer told the Beloit Daily News he was still confident their applications would be approved based on a compact the Ho-Chunk Nation has with the state, which permits the Ho-Chunk to build another casino in the state.
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