State Rep. Peter Barca
Press Release

Governor Walker is Wrong: Kenosha Casino Would Be a Taxpayer Bonanza

Project would create up to 10,000 jobs, draw millions of new tourists each year

By - Jan 29th, 2015 11:32 am
Kenosha Casino

Kenosha Casino

MADISON – Today a bipartisan group of Kenosha- and Racine-area elected officials, along with local business and community leaders, joined together to disprove Governor Walker’s statement that a new casino in Kenosha would cost taxpayers any additional money, much less the hundreds of millions of dollars the governor claims.

“When you start with a false premise, you end up with a false conclusion. Not only would taxpayers not be on the hook, this casino project would in fact be a bonanza for Wisconsin taxpayers,” Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said. “This casino project would mean up to 10,000 good-paying jobs, millions of new tourists, up to $1 billion in revenue for state and local governments and other significant economic development opportunities – all at no cost to the taxpayers. Given those extraordinary benefits, we are again calling on Governor Walker to bring people together and find a way to get to ‘yes.’”

In the days before the governor announced his decision last week, the Menominee Tribe took two major steps to help the project move forward. First they agreed to a compact amendment aimed specifically at reducing the state’s risk. Then they posted a bond to insure the state against any obligation to refund previous payments to Potawatomi.

“From the beginning, the Menominee have shown a continued willingness to compromise and work together to make this project a reality,” Rep. Barca said. “With the Menominee and Hard Rock having offered to cover any potential lost revenue to the state, this project is a win-win for the taxpayers, people who need good jobs and our economic climate. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Kenosha area and for all of Wisconsin and we hope the governor finally decides to take advantage of it.”

Yesterday a group of Kenosha-area supporters launched an online petition urging the governor to reconsider his casino decision: More than 2,000 supporters have already signed on.

A letter to the governor signed by a bipartisan group of 10 legislators is attached here.

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11 thoughts on “Governor Walker is Wrong: Kenosha Casino Would Be a Taxpayer Bonanza”

  1. Paul says:

    How much would the lawsuit by the Potawatomi cost the state of Wisconsin?

  2. Dave says:

    It was silly for the Doyle administration to grant a monopoly to the Potawatomi. Getting into the middle of this is a legal quagmire for the citizens of Wisconsin. Look for leverage to eliminate the monopoly first.

  3. David Ciepluch says:

    Gambling casinos are not a job creator. Once in operation they are just like a vampire sucking Wal-Mart that extracts wealth from a region and takes it someplace else. Some families can afford this style of entertainment, many others become gambling addicts that ruin many lives. We may have reached a saturation point in casinos in Wisconsin. Similar to what happened in New Jersey when half were shut down.

    The most beneficial jobs in a region are production type that sells products and services that bring in outside cash to the local economy. This could be food processing, banking, trucking, electricity, car manufacturing, military, universities, etc. An optimum level of 1/3 production jobs are needed to support the 2/3 service sector jobs in a region (that includes entertainment).

    Most leaders seem to have forgotten this formula and just let the parasites in to suck a community dry.

  4. PMD says:

    But Walmart can pretty much build a new store wherever they want right, regardless of whether or not a community or region truly “needs” a new Walmart? Why doesn’t the same apply to this proposed casino? What about free enterprise? I thought conservatives love and champion free enterprise.

  5. Kyle says:

    The same doesn’t apply because we’re dealing with a legal treaty signed with a semi-sovereign nation. If conservatives don’t like President Obama discarding laws he doesn’t like on a whim, we probably shouldn’t encourage Governor Walker to discard laws he doesn’t like on a whim. In a vacuum, I’d prefer a more free market approach to casinos, but that’s not what exists within the Wisconsin Constitution.

    As for your Walmart example, what limits are you actually advocating for on where a business can open? We already have zoning restrictions, so it’s not like that Walmart can open just anywhere. If they don’t “need” a new Walmart, then perhaps they need to rezone the land so it’s not comercial. Or better yet, since they clearly don’t need a broader tax base, the community should buy the land and build a park. The only other way I can read your comment sounds a bit like you want a streetcar style referendum before any new business is allowed to open.

  6. PMD says:

    So the state Constitution needs amending then? That’s the real issue?

  7. PMD says:

    I’m asking because on the surface, it looks like Walker is picking winners and losers, or trying to prevent competition for the other tribes with existing casinos in the state, and those are things conservatives say they oppose. So is it really an issue with the state Constitution, or is that just a handy scapegoat for the governor?

  8. Kyle says:

    It may look like Walker is picking winners and losers, but really Doyle picked them a decade ago. In exchange for a sizable increase in the money paid to the State, the Potowatomi basically received a monopoly on south-eastern Wisconsin.

    Basically, any attempt to open an off-reservation casino within 50 miles of the Potowatomi casino needs the permission of the Potowatomi. They need to be compensated for any losses incurred from the new casino, and I believe they get back a portion of the increased payments they gave Wisconsin when the agreement was signed. This agreement lasts for 25 years (so I suppose Walker could approve it in 2030). I suspect Walker’s hesitation is that the Potowatomi can probably tie this up in court for years, all while withholding the money their supposed to be paying the state (and have already started withholding) and demanding money back from the state.

    As a disclaimer, it’s not entirely fair to pin all the blame on Doyle. He wasn’t in a great position after losing a Wisconsin Supreme Court case that asserted the sovereignty of the Potowatomi to extend to needing to agree to be sued. That made it much harder to extract any concessions from them (and continues to give them an advantage today).

  9. Casey says:

    I was actually suprised that Walker didn’t approve the Kenosha plan. Would’ve provided jobs and compete against the MKE casino. But as Kyle mentioned casinos seem to have a negative net impact on communities so I’m not really losing any sleep over this.

  10. Rich says:

    the Potowatomi basically received a monopoly on south-eastern Wisconsin.
    There’s a bit more to it than that. Yes, the state got money, FCPC got an effective monopoly on SE Wis, but the compensation mechanism was left open in that original deal — Future arbitration was to agree on how. The “how” that was selected was recently denied by the federal BIA which then left this all up in the air and exposed the state to risk.

  11. Kyle says:

    Yes Rich, you’re right that there’s more to the story. The 2003 agreement (which most of the links for 2005 stories actually went to) appears to add in a lot of clauses where reimbursements would include both current and past payments, driving up the risk for the state. Mostly I wanted to establish that Doyle isn’t just a convenient scapegoat, that most of the issues surrounding the Kenosha casino stem from this 2005 agreement.

    As to the further point about Wisconsin’s Constitution, that was just to point out that in 1993 is was amended to not allow Class 3 gaming (basically casinos) except for the Native American tribes with pre-existing agreements (all 11 Wisconsin tribes already had one at that point). So a true free market solution to casinos in Wisconsin is precluded by the state Constitution and 11 different sovereign nations (maybe 12, I didn’t check into Federal law).

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