Ho-Chunk Nation casino proposal sees opposition from Beloit group as it awaits federal and state approval
A group of community members has mounted opposition to the proposed construction of a casino in the city of Beloit, Wisconsin. Concerned citizens held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the project’s timeline and other issues, and suggested that community members be allowed to voice their opinion on the casino plan at a local referendum.
The 11th Hour Beloit Casino Group hosted the meeting as the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin is awaiting federal approval to build a $400-million hotel and casino resort along Interstate 90/39. The property would feature a gaming facility with 2,200 slot machines and 50 table games, a 300-room hotel, a water park, a convention center, food and beverage facilities, and a number of other amenities.
The Ho-Chunk Nation has said previously that it hopes it would be able to break ground on the resort late this year or in early 2020 and to launch the property in 2021.
As mentioned above, the 11th Hour Beloit Casino Group has voiced opposition to the plan and has suggested that Beloit citizens be given the chance to voice their opinion on whether they want a casino at a referendum.
Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther attended yesterday’s meeting. She told local media afterwards that there was a public process on the casino matter last February and that an open meeting was held at which no opponents came forward.
Ms. Curtis Luther went on to say that at the current stage of the game discussions of “an advisory referendum are not necessarily appropriate.”
Federal and State Approval
The Beloit casino plan needs federal and state approval in order for the Ho-Chunk Nation to be able to proceed with construction. The project has been in the making for more than a decade now, but it was only last August that it made first major step toward its eventual materialization.
The US Bureau of Indian Affairs announced last summer that it would review the casino resort proposal and its environmental and economic impact. In November, the agency published a draft of the findings from its review, but it is yet to announce its final decision.
Even if the Bureau gives the green light to the project, it will also need approval from Governor Tony Evers. Wisconsin’s top official has previously spoken in favor of the proposed casino resort.
According to early projections, the Ho-Chunk-operated hotel and casino complex will create 1,500 new jobs and will generate labor income of nearly $84 million. It is also expected to bring economic impact of more than $225 million to Rock County. The host city of Beloit will annually receive $3 million from the Ho-Chunk Nation for being allowed to provide its services in the region.
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