Final approval awaited

Wisconsin: Menominee Tribe, Kenosha officials sign agreement for proposed Hard Rock casino

Reading time 1:54 min

Officials from the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, along with leaders of Kenosha County and the City of Kenosha, held a ceremony Tuesday to commemorate the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA) for the proposed Kenosha Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The IGA was officially signed last month. 

The Menominee tribe unveiled the proposal for the Kenosha casino in 2022 and is partnering with Hard Rock International on the project. Hard Rock would manage the casino and has bought a 60-acre site.

The proposal calls for a Hard Rock Cafe, six new restaurants, a Hard Rock Live entertainment venue, and a 150-room hotel. The casino would house 1,500 slot machines, more than 50 table games, and a sportsbook. The tribe estimates that the $360 million project would draw 2.4 million people per year.

Menominee Tribe Chairwoman Gena Kakkak said: “We are proud to partner with the elected leaders of Kenosha to move forward with the proposed Kenosha Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The Menominee believe that to be good for our Tribe, the project must be good for the community, and these agreements help make sure that is the case. We look forward to working together to continue advancing this project on the Federal and State levels.”

"This would benefit our health outcomes, being able to take care of our elderly, and providing quality education opportunities for our Menominee youth. We are one of the largest and poorest tribes in the state, and our needs our significant. This project, if approved, will help us now and future generations of our Tribe.

Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman noted that the proposal would bring about 1,000 jobs and $800 million in economic impact to the county and state.

"As the dollars come in to have the economic impact, the negotiations that we've had over the last few months have been about when the casino comes, making sure that we have the resources both at the city and at the county level to fund things like public safety, making sure our streets are safe," she said. "(The tribe wants) to be partners with us on that."

The tribe intends to submit its initial application to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs within the next few months. Tribal leaders hope for a decision by later this year. Governor Tony Evers would then have the last say.

A previous proposal was rejected in 2015 by then-Governor Scott Walker. The Forest County Potawatomi, who operate a casino in Milwaukee, have opposed a casino in Kenosha.

"We should be able to compete respectively amongst each other," said Joey Awonohopay, Kenosha Gaming Authority chair for the Menominee tribe. "The Potawatomi have a wonderful facility. We are going to build a wonderful entertainment facility as well. And so we hope to have ongoing positive relations with them as our project moves forward."

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