Menominee Tribe Hopes Walker Will Approve Kenosha Casino

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The Democrats’ leader in the Assembly is asking Republican Gov. Scott Walker to approve a proposed Menominee tribal casino at Kenosha, despite Walker’s previous hints at a veto.

On Friday, the Interior Department gave their okay to the Menominee tribe’s long-proposed idea to open an off-reservation casino at the former Kenosha dog racing track. Walker can, however, veto the project.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) is urging the governor to okay the plan. Barca says Wisconsin is lagging behind neighboring states on job growth and the casino is an important opportunity for job creation and the economy. Walker has said he wants no net growth of gaming in the state and that all Wisconsin tribes need to endorse the Kenosha casino – unlikely, given the Potatwatomi tribe’s desire to protect business at their casino in Milwaukee.

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University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee governmental affairs professor Mordecai Lee says Walker is going to make some people happy and others unhappy, but at least appears to be clear, “that he’s making decision based on known criteria,” said Lee. “We sort of call it transparency.”

The Menominee tribe hopes to meet with Walker soon and try to change his mind. But Lee says convincing him may be easier said than done. “One thing people have learned about Walker is: he doesn’t change his mind.”

Lee says Walker seems to be banking on the support of conservatives who hate gambling and some liberals who say it sucks money from low-income gamblers. But on the other hand, Walker isn’t talking about shutting down any Wisconsin casinos.

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