Ahead of the inauguration later this month of Donald Trump as the 45th President Of The United States, the Ho-Chunk Nation Of Wisconsin has reportedly met with federal officials to ensure that its plans for a casino in the city of Beloit will not be adversely affected by the transition.
According to a report from the Beloit Daily News newspaper, the federally-recognized tribe wants to build an off-reservation casino in the Rock County city and submitted an application to the regional office of the Bureau Of Indian Affairs early last year but is still awaiting approval pending the successful completion of an environmental impact study.
Formerly known as the Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe, the Ho-Chunk Nation Of Wisconsin already operates Ho-Chunk Gaming-branded casinos in the Wisconsin cities of Black River Falls, Baraboo, Madison, Nekoosa, Tomah and Wittenberg and announced in the autumn that its $153 million Project Forward scheme would be redeveloping a trio of these venues while adding around 100 jobs.
But, the tribe also wants to bring a new casino to a 73.5-acre plot in Beloit, which has a population of around 40,000 and is located less than an hour’s drive from the state’s largest city of Milwaukee. The Ho-Chunk Nation Of Wisconsin explained via a 2015 filing that the project would include a hotel and conference center and could add up to 2,000 jobs while acting as a spur for other local developments.
Before of its meeting with Bureau Of Indian Affairs early last month, the Ho-Chunk Nation Of Wisconsin reportedly requested that Beloit officials and state legislators reaffirm their support for the new casino project and help to line up the Midwestern state’s Congressional delegation behind the plan. This resulted in Wisconsin State Assembly members Amy Loudenbeck and Mark Spreitzer urging United States House Of Representatives member Mark Pocan and United States Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin to continue to support the development, which would head to the desk of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker for approval if passed at the federal level.
“We wanted to give [the Ho-Chunk Nation Of Wisconsin] our full support on this and we are hoping for cooperation from all sides,” Dave Luebke, President for the Beloit City Council, told the Beloit Daily News.
At its meeting with the Bureau Of Indian Affairs, the Ho-Chunk Nation Of Wisconsin was reportedly told that its plan for a Beloit casino, which would sit less than 80 miles from the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, would not face any plan-specific administrative setbacks from a Trump administration although it would have to be approved by the incoming United States Secretary Of The Interior, which could take up to a year.
“The city, county and the Ho-Chunk [Nation Of Wisconsin] have worked together in good faith on a strong application for the proposed casino,” Loudenbeck told the Beloit Daily News.
President-elect Trump subsequently named Ryan Zinke as his choice to run the United States Department Of The Interior and the newspaper reported that this is being seen as a positive development as the 55-year-old Montana Republican has a record of favoring public land conservation and tribal interests.
“What we don’t want to happen is the project getting hurt by federal bureaucracy,” Pocan told the Beloit Daily News.