MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state of Wisconsin and the Menominee Nation have agreed to a new gambling compact over a proposed casino in Kenosha that the tribe said would bring $1 billion in revenue to the state over 25 years.
Gov. Scott Walker said in a Tuesday letter to Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn that the compact was recently negotiated “in an effort to help define the potential economic and fiscal impact of the proposed Kenosha casino.”
Walker also wrote that the compact “in no way indicates whether I support or oppose Menominee’s proposal for a casino in Kenosha, Wisconsin.”
The compact requires approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but Walker has sole authority to approve or reject the casino and must make a decision by Feb. 19.
The Menominee tribe hailed the amended compact, saying it eliminates the state’s risk in approving the $800 million facility at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park. Tribe chairwoman Laurie Boivin said in a statement that the compact answers the state’s concerns and Walker now has a “clear path” to approve the project.
The compact lays out gambling rules and outlines how much the Menominee would pay the state if Walker approves the project. WISN-TV reported the tribe would pay the state 7.5 percent of its net winnings from the Kenosha facility.
The compact also states that the tribe would make up any budget shortfall caused by a reduction in payments from compacts with the Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk tribes, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The Potawatomi tribe, which runs one of the state’s most lucrative casinos in Milwaukee, has led the opposition to the Menominee proposal, fearing that a new competitor would cut into profits.
The Menominee tribe said the Kenosha casino would bring in $1 billion in revenue for the state over the 25-year-life of the compact and generate 10,600 new jobs.
But Department of Administration secretary Mike Huebsch said in a Tuesday memo to Walker that Wisconsin could lose hundreds of millions of dollars if the Potawatomi tribe successfully challenges the proposed casino.
The amended compact with the Menominee doesn’t fully remove that risk, according to Huebsch.
“If the Potawatomi are successful in their litigation against the state, the state may be required to pay Potawatomi hundreds of millions of dollars that will not be offset by payments to the state by the Menominee,” he wrote.