Wisconsin: Council approves Hard Rock casino despite concerns

January 4, 2024 3:57 PM
Photo: Menominee Nation/Hard Rock International (courtesy)
  • Conor Murphy, Special to CDC Gaming Reports
January 4, 2024 3:57 PM
  • Conor Murphy, Special to CDC Gaming Reports

The Kenosha Common Council on Wednesday voted 11-6 to approve a new Hard Rock casino by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. The Kenosha County Board will vote on Jan. 16, with federal approval also needed.

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The Common Council’s vote comes after a postponement in November, which was intended to allow more time for community members and Council members to review the plan.

The casino site spans 60 acres southwest of I-94 and 60th Street in Kenosha. The development, estimated to cost $350 million, is expected to generate about 850 construction jobs and about 1,000 more post-completion. The casino will feature gaming tables, 150 hotel rooms, a pool, a large live entertainment venue and a Hard Rock Cafe.

The proposed casino has sparked a mix of reactions within the Kenosha community, with some residents suggesting that while the creation of union jobs is positive, the presence of a casino could lead to negative long-term effects, such as increased drunken driving and crime. On the other hand, union workers have shown support for the project, highlighting the potential for creating numerous jobs. The Menominee Indian Tribe has said that establishing a casino in Kenosha would significantly assist in alleviating poverty for its tribe.

This project also needs the approval of the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and the governor of Wisconsin. In 2015, the Menominee Nation’s request to build an off-reservation casino in Kenosha was denied by then-Gov. Scott Walker. The refusal was based on potential financial liabilities that the state might have incurred to the Forest County Potawatomi tribe, which operates a casino in Milwaukee.