BIA Rejection Casts Greater Uncertainty on Kenosha Casino

Taxpayers Look Ahead to Costly Legal Battle Coupled with Potential Pricey Payout

(Oconomowoc, WI) The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) rejection of the Gov. Walker-advanced gaming compact amendment, which would have clarified the state’s legal and related compensatory obligation, only adds to the risk that Wisconsin taxpayers will be out hundreds of millions of dollars over multiple years as the February 19th deadline for considering the proposed Kenosha Casino looms.

“The great promise of a Kenosha Casino comes with even greater risks to the taxpayers of our state,” said Brian J. Nemoir, Executive Director of Enough Already! WI, a coalition opposed to the expansion of off-reservation gaming.  “Today’s action by the BIA does nothing to clarify the legal and financial concerns Gov. Walker has discussed and must consider with a looming deadline for consideration.”  

In December, Gov. Walker advanced an arbitrator-approved amendment that detailed how loses experienced by the Potawatomi Tribe be handled if the Kenosha casino is built. The rejected compact amendment would have required the State to make an annual payment to the Potawatomi to compensate the tribe for losses that are not covered by the Menominee.  While the amendment was rejected, still in-effect is the compact signed by Governor Doyle which may still place the state of Wisconsin on the hook for financial losses estimated to be $100s of million annually—if the Kenosha Casino is built while outlining a likely costly arbitration process.

Savvy observers of the Menominee’s Kenosha Casino application are unlikely to be surprised by the BIA’s rejection of the amendment to the Potawatomi compact since the Obama-run BIA has become involved in the decision making process.  The Obama-run BIA has demonstrated repeated favoritism to the Menominee Tribe, including the 2011 reversal of the 2009 rejection of the Menominee’s Kenosha application as a part of an extremely favorable legal settlement.

"The BIA’s obligation is to consider compacts as they relate only to the tribal community, today’s unfortunate BIA decision to reject the amendment which would have clarified the state’s legal and related compensatory commitment shows their narrow scope of consideration and blatant disregard for Wisconsin taxpayers,” said Nemoir.

Enough Already! is an active coalition designed to inform the public of the potential off-reservation casino threats, and provide the common-sense opponents tools for engagement.  Early tools available for use by interested parties include the recently launched blog: