State Senate Could Gamble With Casino's Future

By: Melissa Wollering
By: Melissa Wollering

A bill in front of the State Senate could jeopardize a plan to put a casino in Beloit. The bill would put off-reservation gaming compacts in front of Senate and Assembly members for approval. Right now, the Governor alone has the authority to approve those casinos.

For the last seven years, two tribes have been working together to build a casino in Beloit. The city passed a referendum back in 2000, in favor of it.

The project spokesman, Joe Hunt, says the new casino would create 3,000 jobs in Beloit and help the Bad River Band of Lake Superior and Saint Croix Chippewa tribes. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is wrapping up its review of the project, something that often takes years. Hunt says all that work could come to a halt for two reasons.

"The Ho Chunk tribe has worked very actively to put roadblocks in the way of our approval here in Beloit," says Hunt. "After seven years of work doing it one way, now all of a sudden, there's an attempt to change the rules and we don't believe that's fair."

Hunt says larger tribes want to maintain their market share. The Beloit casino would be competition.

NBC 15 also spoke with Assembly Speaker John Gard's office Monday. He sponsored the bill going before the Senate Tuesday and says Wisconsin residents should have a say in where casinos are developed. If the bill passes, Governor Doyle says he will veto it.

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