Thursday, December 11, 2008

Menominee Request For Feds To Stop Review Of Its Casino Application Is Denied

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Doubt has surrounded the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin's application for an off-reservation casino, that would be managed by the Mohegan Tribe, since the U.S. Interior Department announced guidelines last January regarding its unwillingness to approve tribal casinos that are hundreds of miles from a tribe's reservation.

At the time the policy was announced, in January 2008, the Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected 11 off-reservation casino applications. While the Menominee Tribe's off-reservation casino application was not rejected, actions taken by the Tribe indicate that it fears just such a rejection in the final days of the Bush administration.

The Menominee Tribe filed a restraining order that asked the court to bar the federal government from giving its final review of their casino application but that injuntion was denied two weeks ago.

The Menominee Tribe, in its application, proposed a casino that is about 200 miles from its reservation in a town called Kenosha, WI. Under the plan, the Mohegan Tribe would develop and manage the casino.

A federal judge said that the Menominee Tribe's restraining order request failed to establish a likelihood of success. "It is doubtful that the claim is ripe or that the tribe has standing at this stage of the proceeding," Judge Griesbach wrote in his decision on November 26.

Based on the federal guidelines issued last January and barring intervention under an Obama administration, the Menominee Tribe's proposed casino may never get approved.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority announced last Thursday that it wrote off $9.5 million, a portion of what it has spent, related to the Menominee project. MTGA also wrote off about $3.5 million earlier this year (second quarter) related to the Menominee project.