Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently said there must be “consensus” among all 11 of the state’s Native American tribes before he would approve any tribe’s proposal for an off-reservation casino. “Consensus doesn’t mean 10 yes and one no. Consensus means everybody says yes. Now, do they say that is a difficult wall to hurdle? Absolutely.” Walker said, “You open the door without that sort of criteria,” meaning more tribes would want off-reservation casinos.
The governor’s announcement is a particularly severe blow to the Menominee tribe, which has pursued an off-reservation casino at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha. Tribal leaders felt its application would be approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Now they believe Walker is shielding the Forest County Potawatomi from losing an estimated $150 million in annual revenue at its Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee if the Menominee casino would become a reality. The Potawatomi gambling hall, the nation’s first off-reservation casino, generated $368 million in the last fiscal year, and officials contend that would drop by up to $150 million if the Menominee’s Kenosha casino opened.
Menominee Chairman Craig Corn said if Walker is “going to give veto power to the Forest County Potawatomi, then make sure he says that to all the Menominee people and the people in Kenosha, Racine and surrounding communities. The Menominee will have veto power on any other project, for that matter.”
Menominee attorney Rory Dilweg noted Walker “would essentially be giving up his authority to a tribe or special interest. I’ve never heard of a governor voluntarily giving up authority.”
If the Menominee’s federal application is approved and the tribe builds a Kenosha casino, the Potawatomi tribe has threatened to stop paying its annual casino fee of $30 million-$40 million, said Potawatomi Attorney General Jeffrey Crawford.