KESHENA - Two area tribes remain at odds over a casino project proposed for near the Illinois border in southeastern Wisconsin.
The problem is that while the Keshena-based Menominee Tribe wants to partner with the Forest County Potawatomi.
The Potawatomi Tribe opposes the new gaming facility planned for Kenosha at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park.
Federal officials have approved the new billion dollar casino, but there are still hurdles to cross for it to happen.
Governor Scott Walker has the final say on the casino and says his approval of the license rests on all 11 sovereign tribes approving it.
At this point the biggest point of contention - is with the Potawatomi - especially now after details of a possible business venture with the Menominee were made public.
We hear from both sides.
In a letter recently made public, the Menominee Tribe offered the Forest County Potawatomi a share in managing or developing the proposed Kenosha casino.
“The deal that Forest County could come away with would potentially be about $200 million,” said Menominee tribal Chairman Craig Corn.
The release of the details of the deal has upset the Potawatomi. Tribal leaders say making the offer public was a gimmick to garner attention.
“Unfortunately, every time the Potawatomi has met with Menominee, the details of those conversations, which they thought were confidential, have found their way to the media,” said George Ermert, spokesperson for the Potawatomi Tribe in a phone interview.
“This is our shot at, you know, really a better life for all our membership and we don't take this lightly, and we don't joke about it, and it's not a gimmick to us,” said Corn.
The Potawatomi run a lucrative off-reservation casino in Milwaukee, and fear the competition would hurt revenue. But a bigger issue is behind the tribe's opposition.
“The project has a long history of corruption, scandal. And the fact that there are out of state interests involved in this project that will make millions of dollars at the expense of Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” said Ermert.
“It's just so unfair to say that. There's no corrupt or mob ties to this project. That's they just try to paint it in a bad light. And it's just not fair and it's not true,” said Corn.
Governor Walker's approval of the casino's license is dependent on all of Wisconsin's 11 sovereign tribes supporting the venture. We contacted each one.
Most did not return our calls; however, the Oneida Tribe says at this point it remains undecided.
The Lac du Flambeau Tribe says it supports the Menominee's efforts to build a new casino.
Corn tells FOX 11 the project has the support of eight tribes.
“St. Croix, Lac du Flambeau, LCO, Bad River, Red Cliff, Stockbridge-Munsee, Sokaogon Chippewa, Menominee,” he said.
Corn says the Menominee Tribe will continue to pursue negotiations with the Potawatomi. He says he's willing to meet with them any time, any place.
“We just keep monitoring our phones and computers and hope they'll respond back,” Corn said.
Potawatomi tribal leadership is still deciding what its next move will be.
The proposed Kenosha casino is projected to create 3,300 jobs and provide the state with $35 million in annual payments.
A lobbyist for the Potawatomi say the Menominee's economic predicts are exaggerations, and the state's casino market is saturated.
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