Gov. Tony Evers signed off Wednesday on the Ho-Chunk Nation's plans to open a casino and entertainment complex in Beloit, hailing the project as job creator that will help the region recover from the economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Department of the Interior in April approved taking 32 acres just north of the Illinois border into trust for the purpose of developing the complex. Federal law gives governors the power to approve or reject off-reservation casinos.
The $405 million gaming and family entertainment destination is projected to bring an approximate 1,500 permanent jobs and thousands of construction jobs to the site in an economic win for the Nation, the Beloit area, and the State of Wisconsin. The project includes a casino, hotel, convention center, restaurants, and waterpark.
“We want to thank the City of Beloit, Rock County, and our respective communities for all the support over the past several years. We look forward to the day when we can celebrate everybody who helped this project along,” said Ho-Chunk Nation Vice President Karena Thundercloud.
The application for a Beloit casino was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in April of 2020.
The planned development is at the southeast corner of Willowbrook and Colley roads between Willowbrook Road and Interstate 39-90.
Beloit’s casino is in a race with Rockford’s Hard Rock Casino, which would go up on E. State Street in the lot of the former Clock Tower Resort. The Illinois Gaming Board has not yet approved a final license, but Hard Rock has begun development of space within Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center, 610 N Bell School Rd, as a temporary casino.
“The City of Beloit remains optimistic and hopeful that we can celebrate a groundbreaking soon. The City of Beloit is committed to working with the Ho-Chunk Nation on this development,” said Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther. “Not only will the Ho-Chunk Nation bring economic development, job growth and entertainment activity to our community, but the Nation will also provide cultural and historical education to our residents. We look forward to welcoming the Ho-Chunk Nation back to their home.”
The Bureau of Indian Affairs will now begin the final administrative process to move the land into trust.