These agreements, which were negotiated in 2023, must be approved, respectively, by the Common Council and the County Board. After an initial review in November, both bodies opted to defer action until January 2024 at the earliest.
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The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin in 2022 announced a renewed proposal to partner with Hard Rock International to develop a casino, entertainment and hotel complex on approximately 60 acres of land on the southwest corner of 60th Street (Highway K) and the Interstate 94 West Frontage Road in the City of Kenosha. This is separate from a previous proposal on the former Dairyland Greyhound Park site, which then-Gov. Scott Walker denied in 2015.
The Menominee have filed an application with the U.S. Department of the Interior to hold the land in trust to allow the tribe to locate an off-reservation casino on the land. If this is approved, the Wisconsin governor will have the final authority to approve or deny the application.
They do not have a direct say. However, the City and County have negotiated intergovernmental agreements with the Menominee, which spell out how the local governments would be compensated for lost property taxes and the cost of additional services incurred as a result of the casino’s operations. (If the land is held in trust, it is exempt from property taxes.) If these intergovernmental agreements are not adopted on the city and county levels, these protections for the local governments will not be assured if the casino receives federal and state approval.
The County would receive a Net Win payment (calculated based on the total amount wagered at the casino minus the amount paid out as winnings).
The agreement also provides for a minimum payment to the County regardless of the Net Win allocation — a base if the Net Win does not reach this level. These annual minimums begin at $50,000 in the first year of the agreement, ramping up to $500,000 in years 3-8 and $1 million in year 9 and going forward.
The County is also to receive a Tribal Sales Tax payment at a rate equal to the 5.5% State of Wisconsin Sales Tax, plus an annual Responsible Gaming payment of $75,000 per year, to match an identical allocation from the County for the assessment and treatment of problem gamblers. An additional provision provides for payments from the tribe to the County to be used for debt service on the County’s new Human Services Building.
All told, per an analysis by the County’s Finance staff, the county expects to receive the following payments:
The agreements and other supporting documents are available online.
The proposed project is projected to have a significant, local economic impact, with early estimates totaling a new development cost of roughly $360 million, including approximately $104 million in construction payroll with nearly 1,000 construction jobs for 18 months. The planned casino and entertainment center is estimated to employ more than 1,000 people once it is fully built out, with the average annual earnings for full-time equivalent employees projected to be roughly $54,000.
More information is available in a fact sheet from the Menominee Tribe and an economic impact study that the tribe commissioned in 2023.