Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers gave his approval for the Ho-Chunk Nation to build a casino complex in Beloit on Wednesday, clearing one of the major hurdles in the long-planned project.
Evers’ signing comes one year after the Bureau of Indian Affairs gave its initial approval, six years after former Gov. Scott Walker blocked a proposed gambling hall in Kenosha that was proposed by the Menominee tribe, almost seven years after the application was filed, and 22 years after Beloit residents approved the project in a referendum.
The complex is located just West of Interstate 39/90 and would sit on Wisconsin’s border with Chicago, making it an easy draw for out-of-state visitors. According to Beloit City manager Curtis Luther, the project will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs when operational.
Second Biggest Casino in Wisconsin
Once it is completed, the Ho-Chunk in Beloit will be the second largest casino in Wisconsin after the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee. The Ho-Chunk project will boast of 2,200 slot machines, a 300-room hotel tower, a 40,000 square foot waterpark, five restaurants, a retail shopping venue, concert venue, and a conference space, all of these on 73 acres of land.
According to Ho-Chunk tribe spokesman Sarah Lemeiux, the Beloit casino will likely be a smoke-free property, unlike some Wisconsin casinos. The state has an indoor smoking ban but since the casinos are owned by the tribes, they are not bound by the state law because they are considered as sovereign nations.
es of land.
Off to Bureau of Indian Affairs For Final Approval
Now that Evers has signed off his approval, the Bureau of Indian Affairs can consider giving the Beloit casino project final approval by putting 32 out of the project’s 73 hectares into federal trust. Once that is completed, Evers and the Ho-Chunk tribe will have to negotiate their agreement on casino operations, including how much of the casino’s revenues goes to the state.
Since the project is for an off-reservation casino, the governor did not have the power to veto it under the federal rule. But that option wasn’t in the cards as far as the Beloit casino is concerned because Gov. Evers had voiced his support for the Ho-Chunk casino project even before his election to office in 2018.