Wisconsin: Kenosha County Board delays decision on Menominee Tribe casino agreement

The Kenosha County Board has opted to postpone deliberations on an intergovernmental agreement with the Menominee Tribe concerning a proposed casino.

The decision to delay formal consideration until January 16 was reached with a 13-7 vote during Tuesday night’s meeting, with the board citing the need for additional time and information to thoroughly assess the proposed deal, Kenosha News reported.

The agreement in question outlines commitments of over $80 million in revenue sharing from gaming proceeds. These funds are intended to offset public safety, social services, and economic costs to the county over a 20-year period.

The tribe’s vision includes the construction of a $360 million casino complex, featuring a hotel, restaurants, and an entertainment venue in collaboration with developer Hard Rock International on a 60-acre site just west of Interstate 94.

Crucial to the Menominee Tribe’s plans is the request for both the city and county to agree to place the proposed casino land in federal trust, thereby removing it from local taxing jurisdiction, the report said.

Those in favor of the delay, including supervisors Brian Thomas, Zach Rodriguez, and Vice Chair Erin Decker, stressed the importance of transparency and the need for additional time to review the agreement.

On the other side, dissenting supervisors, such as William Grady and Terry Rose, advocated for an indefinite postponement, effectively restarting the vetting process, including referral to committees.

The County Board’s decision followed two hours of public comments and supervisor deliberations. The Kenosha City Council also unanimously voted to delay its decision on the intergovernmental agreement until January 3.

County Corporation Counsel Joseph Cardamone clarified that, if necessary, the board could further postpone its vote at the January 16 meeting. However, an indefinite postponement would require the process to restart.

Concerns raised by elected officials centered on the need for additional information, including a completed traffic study, environmental assessment, economic analysis, and updates to relevant ordinances. Despite assurances from Cardamone that he did not anticipate significant changes to the agreement’s language, questions lingered about the potential for renegotiation based on the information provided.

The county’s analysis projects over $33 million in revenue during the first 10 years, with an estimated growth to more than $48.7 million in the subsequent decade. The revenue-sharing structure includes a percentage of net win revenue, tribal sales taxes, and annual payments for responsible gaming promotion and charitable donations.