Calls Mount to Slow Consideration of Kenosha Casino Proposal

Nov. 15, 2023 noon 

(WGTD)---The Kenosha County Board took a nearly five-hour-long look at the Menominee Indian Tribe’s Hard Rock casino proposal Tuesday night.

Several supervisors complained that the proposal, including the Inter-Governmental Agreement that lays out governance parameters and revenue-sharing, had too many loose ends and lacked detail. Several supervisors called for a 'go-slow' approach. 

Supervisor Monica Yuhas was the most vocal critic. "The feeling out in the public is that this is being rushed--that this is a shady deal and that it does not pass the smell test," she said. "And we're being asked tonight to look at an IGA that has errors and omissions." 

The agreement was built in part on past versions of the proposed casino. Representatives of the Menominees indicated that additional revisions and more information will be forthcoming. 

County Board Chairman Gabe Nudo defended the process that led to the tentative deal. "I can appreciate your position--whether you're for or against the casino for whatever reason," Nudo said. "But to say this was not done on the up and up--that is not true," he said. 

The Menominees want to build a $350 million Hard Rock casino/hotel complex along I-94 near 60th St.

As had been anticipated, the meeting ended without a vote. Votes, however, are expected Wednesday and Thursday evenings when two committees meet. A vote by the full county board could come as early as next Tuesday.

The Kenosha City Council gave preliminary approval last week on a vote of 12 to 3.

At Tuesday night's county board meeting, supervisors asked dozens of questions, ranging from the impact on traffic to patronage estimates. Representatives of the tribe, Hard Rock and the county's own tribal affairs attorney were on hand to answer questions. 

Supervisor Laura Belsky said she’s not ready to vote on the matter. "I'm asking questions not because I'm for it or because I'm against it," she said. "I want to understand the impacts to our community." 

Some of the questions had to do with the aesthetics of the proposed structure. Tribal official Joey Awonohopay tried to assure the audience that the complex would be much more than ‘slots in a box.’  "First and foremost we just don't want a gambling facility. We want the entertainment center. That's what draws in the people," he said.