Ho Chunk Gaming Beloit: Casino approval now up to Wisconsin Gov. Evers
Friday 17th April 2020
The Ho-Chunk Nation received federal approval to build a casino in Beloit and now must get permission from Gov. Tony Evers.
The City of Beloit announced the Bureau of Indian Affairs decision Thursday.
The Ho-Chunk resort and entertainment complex is expected to provide 1,500 jobs if it is built on a 73-acre parcel at an intersection of Interstate 39/90 near the Beloit Travel Wisconsin Welcome Center.
Ho-Chunk Vice President Karena Thundercloud noted that the tribe had been posting record high revenues at its gaming facilities until the coronavirus pandemic shut down operations last month at all casinos in the state.
"Casinos have been the bedrock of tribal economies across the nation. The economy of the Ho-Chunk Nation is no different," Thundercloud wrote Thursday in a letter to Ho-Chunk members who are employed by the tribe.
Thundercloud said the process of getting an off-reservation gaming operation in Beloit to the governor's desk has been "long and difficult."
"Our predecessors sought to guarantee our tribe's economic independence" by beginning the process to place land in trust for an off-reservation casino, Thundercloud said.
By federal law, governors have the power to approve or reject off-reservation casinos.
When Evers was running for governor in 2018 he told the Beloit Daily News he would approve the project. After he was elected, Evers said he would carefully review the proposed casino.
Messages to the governor's spokeswoman were not returned Thursday night.
A Beloit official was cautiously optimistic.
"While the federal approval of Ho-Chunk Nation's application to place land in trust and allow Las Vegas-style gambling at an entertainment destination in Beloit is news we have waited many years to receive, we must remain focused on the current state of emergency," Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said in a statement.
"Unequivocally, our highest priority is doing everything we possibly can to keep our staff and the public safe. Once this crisis is over, we look forward to celebrating this amazing announcement that will bring much needed future revenue and jobs to Beloit," said Curtis Luther.