Tribe confident it can craft casino deal in Kenosha
KENOSHA — The Menominee Nation's chairman believes his tribe can craft an agreement on an off-reservation casino in Kenosha that Gov. Scott Walker would approve.
The Menominee won federal approval for the casino in August, but Walker has the final say. The governor has said he wouldn't green-light the project unless there was community support, no net increase in gambling and Wisconsin's other 10 tribes approve the plans. The Ho-Chunk Nation and the Forest County Potawatomi oppose the idea. A 60-day comment period on the casino Walker established expires on Tuesday.
Walker quietly met with leaders from the Menominee, Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and Oneida tribes behind closed doors on Wednesday. It's unclear exactly what transpired at the meeting. Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis issued a brief statement Wednesday evening saying only that Walker reiterated his approval criteria.
Menominee Chairman Craig Corn told the Kenosha News that the Ho-Chunk, Oneida and Potawatomi are concerned that the Menominee casino would pull gamblers away from their own facilities. Corn said he was confident the Menominee could offset those losses, though he declined to elaborate.
Corn said he also believes the Menominee and the Potawatomi can work out a deal, but he said another unnamed tribe "is pretty much dug in" against the casino.
Corn said Walker laid out a path to approval but didn't offer any details.
"There were some things the governor expressed he wants to see from the Menominee, and I'll hand deliver to his office on Tuesday," Corn said. "He just wants us to address the concerns from some of the different tribal nations and get it back to him by next Tuesday.
"Just tell the people of Kenosha and southeast Wisconsin we're trying to do everything we can to get this project through," Corn told the newspaper.
Corn didn't immediately return an email and a phone message from The Associated Press on Thursday.
Marquis said an email to the AP on Thursday that nothing has changed and Walker's three criteria remain in place.
"It is now incumbent upon the Menominee to show the three criteria have been met by (the) 60 day time period of October 22, 2013," she wrote. In a later email, she said she wasn't sure what Corn meant when he said the governor set out an approval path.
Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said Thursday he believed the project could be a "win-win" for everyone involved and called on Walker to help bring people together.
"The potential for this project is enormous," he said.