Monday, September 22, 2008

The Tribe In The Media: Update On Wisconsin Indian Casino

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article from today's Kenosha News about the Menominee Tribe's continuing efforts to secure approval for another casino in Wisconsin. In February, Leo Chupaska of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported that the Mohegan Tribe and its business arm, MTGA, had invested about $9 million into the project.

Casino plan still moving forward
Joe Potente
Kenosha News
Sept. 22, 2008

Plans for a Kenosha casino remain very much alive, a project backer said late last week.

Eric Olson, project director, said the Menominee Nation proposal recently underwent an unmet needs study, which will be discussed in a Sept. 29 meeting with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington.

"They asked us for a comprehensive financial study on how the development's going to help the tribe and the reservation up north in Keshena," Olson said. "We provided that - we did a complete study."

The Menominee and its partner, the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe, have spent nearly five years pursuing the development, which would be located at Dairyland Greyhound Park.

Original estimates pegged it to be an $808 million development. Menominee officials and Olson have said the project's price tag is now likely around $1 billion.

The tribe continues to await the blessing of the federal government, which must rule whether the casino is in the best interest of the tribe and the Kenosha community. If the Bureau of Indian Affairs recommends approval of the project, it would then go to Gov. Jim Doyle for approval or denial.

If the governor approves it, it would then go back to Washington for a ruling on whether to hold the 223-acre Dairyland property in tribal trust, effectively making it reservation land.

Menominee officials hoped for a ruling during the summer. It has now been more than four years since the tribe submitted its initial application materials.

Olson, hired last year to be the liaison between the tribe and the Kenosha community, said the facility is still expected to create about 3,100 jobs, plus 1,400 construction jobs while it is being built.

"In light of where we are economically, I've always said that jobs are what's going to create an economic recovery," Olson said. "It's not cash infusions; it's jobs. This brings jobs into this area."

Olson said he feels good about where the project sits, in spite of the delays.

"(The Bureau of Indian Affairs) asked us for additional information," Olson said. "We supplied that in August, and now we've got people from the tribe going out there to discuss the application with the BIA.

"We think it's positive."