tribal officials hailed a gaming agreement signed with the state
Tuesday saying it provides Gov. Scott Walker with a "clear path" to
approve their proposed Kenosha casino.
But a key state official warned that approval of the casino could put
taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.
amendment to the Menominee compact that the State and Menominee
submitted (to federal regulators) does not fully remove these risks,"
states a memo from Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch
to Walker. The memo was released late Tuesday afternoon.
amendment to the compact must be approved by the U.S. Bureau of Indian
Affairs before it can take effect. The compact lays out gaming rules and
the how much the Menominee would pay the state if Walker approves
construction of the $800 million casino the tribe wants to open in
Walker has sole authority to approve or reject the casino. He faces a Feb. 19 deadline.
amended compact will result in a projected $1 billion payment to the
state over the 25-year life of the compact, the tribe said, adding that
it expects its annual payments to exceed the current amounts paid by the
Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk tribes. Those two tribes operate the state's
largest casinos and oppose the Menominee plan to open an off-reservation
casino in Kenosha.
"Gov. Walker now has a clear path to approve
the Kenosha project and reap the benefits of $1 billion in revenue share
for the state budget," Laurie Boivin, Menominee chairwoman, said in a
But Huebsch warned the Menominee money may not be enough to cover potential losses to the state.
memo lays out the numerous legal challenges and arguments that the
Potawatomi have raised against the casino — most notably its claim that
the state would have to reimburse the tribe for any losses due to the
entrance of a new competitor.
The BIA this month rejected a
proposed amendment to the Potawatomi compact that put the state on the
hook for its expected losses to a Kenosha competitor.
The Potawatomi, however, is challenging that rejection.
noted that the compact amendment would require the Menominee to
reimburse the state for any funds it must pay the Potawatomi in future
"It does not compensate the state if the state has to refund past payments made by the Potawatomi," Huebsch wrote.
the Potawatomi are successful in their litigation against the state,
the state may be required to pay Potawatomi hundreds of millions of
dollars that will not be offset by payments to the state by the
The claims and counter claims is the latest round in
the nearly one-and-a-half year battle over the Menomiee's effort to
convince Walker to allow it to open an off-reservation casino near the
The BIA approved the casino in August 2013 and Walker has unilateral power to approve or veto the casino.
that a new competitor would cut into its profits, the Potawatomi —
whose Milwaukee's gambling hall is the nation's first off-reservation
casino — has led the opposition to the Menominee proposal.