Ho-chunk nation casino proposal sees overwhelming…


Beloit leaders and residents speak in favor of casino resort in the city, see the project as much-needed economic boon
Residents of Beloit, Wisconsin expressed Tuesday overwhelmingly positive opinion about a proposed casino resort in the city.

The project has been in the works for years now but it was this summer when it finally made a significant progress towards its realization.

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The federally recognized Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin has introduced the plan more than a decade ago. The tribe wants to build a casino complex along Interstate 90/39 with a gaming floor with 2,200 slot machines and 50 gaming tables, a 300-room hotel, several food and beverage facilities, a 40,000-square-foot water park, and a convention center, among other facilities.

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The US Bureau of Indian Affairs announced this past August that it would review the project. The agency’s decision represented the first major step the plan has made towards its materialization for years now.
The Bureau held yesterday a public hearing in Beloit, seeking input from residents of the city and the area. The event was part of the agency’s review of the economic and other impacts of the proposed casino resort. It issued a draft of its findings so far in early November.

It is still unknown when the Bureau will announce its final decision on whether the Ho-Chunk Nation should be allowed to proceed with the implementation of the project.

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Overwhelming Support
Local leaders and residents of Beloit and Rock County showed up mostly in support for the scheme, many saying that the development of a casino complex would be an economic boon for the city. According to early projections, the property would create around 1,500 new jobs and would generate labor income of $83.7 million.

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The resort could contribute more than $225 million in economic impact to Rock County, while the county and the host city would each receive $3 million per year from the Ho-Chunk Nation for providing their services in the region.
Many of those who attended the Tuesday hearing with the Bureau of Indian Affairs touted the property’s location. As mentioned above, Ho-Chunk’s casino will be located along Interstate 90/39, just north of the Illinois border. The facility will be the only one of its kind for hours of drive, as under Illinois’ current gambling law, the state would not be able to immediately develop competitive facilities.

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Ho-Chunk has said that if its original plan for a hotel and casino resort does not gain the necessary support, it could reduce the casino floor and commercial development, develop only retail facilities, or nothing at all.

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Some Beloit residents expressed concerns yesterday that with alternative plans already under consideration, the tribe could eventually drop the resort part of the project and only develop a casino, which would mean fewer opportunities than what was originally promised.
There were also leaders who said Tuesday that despite the multiple economic benefits, those do not outweigh the moral negatives of bringing casino gambling to the region.

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If the Bureau of Indian Affairs gives the green light to the project, it will then move to Gov.-elect Tony Evers’ desk for his signature of approval. The official has previously spoken in favor of the casino proposal.
The Ho-Chunk Nation plans to commence construction late in 2019 or early in 2020 and targets 2021 opening of its resort.

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