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Fiona Simmons December 27, 2023 3 min read
Menominee Indian Tribe Wants to Spend $360M on Hard Rock Casino Resort
The project has been long in the works, but the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin is now fleshing out additional details as to how the project will unfold and what to expect from the $360-million casino resort
For starters, the Menominee Indian Tribe wants to work in partnership with Hard Rock, the brand owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which recently launched sports betting in the Sunshine State despite strong local opposition.
The collaboration between the two was previously known, but the Menominee Indian Tribe is hoping to elicit a stronger response from lawmakers on whose goodwill the proposed project hinges. A vote at the city council authorizing the sale of a crucial piece of land to the tribe was due earlier this year, but the process was eventually postponed, and the issue has hit a hiatus.
Menominee Indian Tribe Resolved about Kenosha Casino
Now, tribal leaders want to associate themselves with the prominent brand and bring about a 70,000-square-foot casino which will house 1,500 slot machines along with 55 live dealer table games and a dedicated sportsbook.
Sports betting is available in Wisconsin through a tribal compact negotiated with the state, allowing the Menominee Indian Tribe to run sports betting operations. Holding onto this opportunity, the tribe now wants to secure a partnership that will see its investment pay off.
Spending $360 million on a casino resort seems intuitive to the tribe, and the right way to ensure the sustainability of tribal operations and the community they serve. Commenting on the new project, Menominee Kenosha Gaming Authority chairman Joey Awonohopay noted that the time to move forward with this project felt right.
“The plan is to build it all out immediately. We intend to secure funding to build it all out,” he added. Interestingly, this is not the first time the tribe has tried to establish a casino resort, nor is it the most grandiose design to begin with.
Earlier attempts to see the Menominee Tribe establish a casino were snubbed by Gov. Scott Walker who took a dim view of allowing gambling to proliferate on his watch. The Menominee Tribe’s eye-watering $800 million investment did not prove enough to sway the governor and change his mind.
Although the exact price tag of the new investment is now established, there are hurdles to clear as well. The tribe would have to convince Kenosha to sell it 60 acres of city-owned land, expanding the tribe’s sovereignty this way, but it’s not that simple, as the purchase itself is not enough to put the land under the tribe’s sovereignty alone, and the federal government would have to step in.
Negotiating a New Tribal Compact
Should this plan clear, the tribe would also need to accomplish what it couldn’t under Walker’s watch – ask for Class III permission to run gambling operations in the state. The current governor, Tony Evers, seems to be a little less gung-ho when it comes to gambling, but whether the Menominee Tribe convinces him is another matter altogether.
Awonohopay is confident that the tribe is indeed going to bring a lot of value to the city and the state, and the Menominee Tribe is moving forward to publicize its plans in the hopes of raising awareness for the project and the argued benefits therein.