Plans For Beloit Casino Move Forward

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

The regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved plans Monday to build a casino and convention center in Beloit.

Beloit residents approved plans for the casino by a large margin six years ago.

But this is an off-reservation casino, and a building project of this scale has to go through a lot of hoops.
Monday's regional approval was a big one.

Right now, it's just an empty field off the Interstate in Beloit; but city manager Larry N. Arft says it may be a major tourist destination in a few short years.

"I think it's a good location and they wanted to do a project where it would be successful."

They are the St. Croix and Bad River Chippewa tribes, who live in northwestern Wisconsin, but chose Beloit as the site of a proposed $200 million dollar Casino complex.

"They were looking for communities that had a higher than average unemployment rate and that had a need to add those jobs that would be created by a project like this and Beloit met that criteria certainly back in 99, 2000 when Beloit Corp. closed," says Arft.

The project, which also includes a hotel and convention center will create an estimated 3-4,000 jobs.

"We're hoping to draw a lot of corporate headquarters and new businesses to Beloit," says Rockford developer Kurt Carlson.

Carlson plans on using the casino as a catalyst for greater development surrounding the site, adding another 3,000 jobs.

"And we're going to do a pretty good sized retail center including outlet stores. We're going to have one of the finest car museums in the midwest there - going to be a great tourist attraction."

And one that will hopefully draw people from all over Wisconsin and Illinois, and enhance economies from Madison to Rockford.

"And I believe in ten years, the Casino will be a small part of a much larger development," says Carlson.

Arft says the tribes took so much care with the paperwork in case there was a challenge from another tribe or anti-gaming group; so far, no such challenge has been made.

Wednesday, tribe members, city leaders and county leaders, head to Washington D.C. to ask for federal approval.

Finally, Governor Doyle would need to sign off on the project.

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