MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) has a big decision to make on a Kenosha casino that could affect his 2014 re-election chances.
The casino would bring a lot of jobs and money to one of the state's key swing vote areas, but the Governor is not embracing it the way some locals there would like.
The Menominee Tribe got federal approval last week to build an $800 million off-reservation casino at the shuttered Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha. On Tuesday, Menominee leaders joined lawmakers and business leaders from the Kenosha area to promote the casino at a Capitol news conference.
"It means more than 3,300 family supporting jobs, more than 1,400 good family supporting construction jobs," said Gary Besaw, the Gaming Authority Chairman for the Menominee Tribe.
The Menominee Tribe estimates the casino would also bring in an additional $35 million in state revenue each year.
Its future is literally in the hands of Governor Walker.
He has the sole power to greenlight the project tomorrow, but he first wants Wisconsin's 11 tribes to agree on it. That provision is something he laid out as part of the criteria for new gaming in Wisconsin when he was first elected in 2010.
"If they can get it done in 60 days and reach a spot where they can meet all of our criteria, then they've got a shot, if they can't then they'll have to come back to the drawing board," said Gov. Walker, talking to reporters in Milwaukee Tuesday morning.
Kenosha and Racine counties would see the biggest economic impact from a new casino.
There is bipartisan support from legislators in that area who say the public supports it as well, due to high unemployment there.
"I've seen the transformation amongst some of the people who have probably been most opposed to the project, that were close to me, who have now come out and said 'we need this, in our area,'" said Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake).
That could be important to the Governor politically, because he carried both Kenosha and Racine counties in his 2010 election victory, but split them in the 2012 recall election.
Saying no to thousands of new jobs could cost him a lot of votes in 2014. But Governor Walker says he will stick to his original plan.
"What I tried to do was set up a process where, this wasn't going to be determined by lobbying or who can run the most TV ads, but rather about specific criteria that I laid out the beginning of my tenure as Governor," said Gov. Walker. "Whether people agree or disagree, I want it as objective a process as possible."
Much of the next 60 days will hinge on whether the Potawatomi Tribe agrees to the new casino.
The Potawatomi have objected to the idea of a Menominee casino in Kenosha in the past, because they own a casino in Milwaukee and worry it would negatively impact their business.
The Menominee Tribe indicates it is willing to offer the Potawatomi some sort of share in the new casino to get it approved.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Supporters of plans for a tribal casino in Kenosha are pressing Gov. Scott Walker to approve the project.
The Menominee Nation wants to open an off-reservation casino at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park dog track. Federal officials approved the plan last week but Walker must sign off before anything can happen.
Walker has said his approval hinges on no new net gaming, community support and consensus among the state's tribes. The Forest County Potawatomi, which operates a casino in Milwaukee, opposes the Menominee's plans.
Menominee leaders, southeastern Wisconsin legislators and labor leaders held a press conference at the state Capitol Tuesday calling on Walker to approve the plans. The say the casino will create thousands of jobs and alleviate poverty on the Menominee's reservation in northeastern Wisconsin.
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