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Hard Rock Kenosha casino project with Menominee Tribe gets preliminary approval

Hard Rock International and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin are one step closer to making a $350 million casino a reality.

SymClub
Apr 8, 2024
3 min read
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A majority of the Kenosha City Council (see March 2023 photo) gave preliminary approval this week....aussiedlerbote.de
A majority of the Kenosha City Council (see March 2023 photo) gave preliminary approval this week to construction of a tribal casino resort. The $350 million project comes from the Menominee Indian Tribe and Hard Rock International..aussiedlerbote.de

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Hard Rock Kenosha casino project with Menominee Tribe gets preliminary approval

Hard Rock International and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin are one step closer to making a $360 million casino resort a reality.

The Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock Group are seeking local, state and federal approval to open a tribal casino in Kenosha, Wisconsin. They cleared the first hurdle Thursday night, when the Kenosha City Council voted 12-3 to approve an intergovernmental agreement between the Menominee Indian Gaming Authority and the city of Kenosha. The agreement calls for transferring about 60 acres of land currently owned by the city on 60th Street west of Interstate 94.

The Menominee Indian Tribe renewed its tribal casino partnership with Hard Rock last year. In return for helping the tribe achieve its economic goals by funding the project, Hard Rock, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, one of the wealthiest Native American groups in the United States, will operate the Menominee Casino and share in its profits.

Hard Rock paid $100,000 to the city of Kenosha in 2022 for an option to purchase 60 acres in the city. If the casino project is fully approved, the full purchase price for the property would be $15 million.

Details about Kenosha Hard Rock

The Kenosha City Council says it will conduct a final review of the Hard Rock and Menominee Kenosha casinos on Nov. 20.

If the commission gives full support, the tribe must place the land in federal trust for the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs. In order for the land to be accepted, the tribe must prove a historical connection to the property in order for it to be considered sovereign and protected tribal territory.

Once added to the trust, federally recognized tribes such as the Menominee Nation can operate primary and secondary gaming on the land. These games include bingo, punch board, and pull tabs. Slots and table games, and possibly sports betting, would all require Level III contracts with tribal host nations.

The tribe and Hard Rock want to build a 70,000-square-foot casino with about 1,500 slot machines and 55 gaming tables. The sports betting provider should be identified. The resort is planned to feature a Hard Rock Café, buffet restaurant, steakhouse and Asian restaurant. Also included is a 150-room hotel and an 18,000-square-foot ballroom.

The three city councilors who voted against the project gave different reasons.

Councilman Dave Mau voted against it because of concerns that the city should not approve the land for certain commercial uses. Councilor Kelly McKay said she was simply opposed to gambling. Councilwoman Holly Kangas said she is not opposed to opening a casino, but she thinks the process is moving too quickly because the Legislature only recently received the latest plans from the tribe and Hard Rock.

Second Attempt at Kenosha Casino

This is not the first time the Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock have sought approval to open a casino in Kenosha.

Nearly a decade ago, the partners proposed a larger, $800 million resort project that received formal approval from local and federal governments but was ultimately rejected by then-Gov. Scott Walker (right). Because the casino would be tribally owned and would require a Class III gaming agreement to operate slot machines and table games, the governor would have final say in approving such a revenue-sharing agreement.

The Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock are back, hoping Gov. Tony Evers (D) will be more willing to support the tribe's economic expansion. The tribe already owns its namesake casino, the Menominee Casino Resort, on Kershner's sovereign reservation. However, the casino is small, with only a few hundred slot machines.

Kenosha is a more attractive market than Cashner because the city is located between Chicago to the south and Milwaukee to the north. With a population of approximately 100,000, Kenosha is the fourth largest city in Wisconsin.

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Source: www.casino.org

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