After having submitted an application to the Department of the Interior in 2016 for review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) this year, the Ho-Chunk Nation‘s planned $405.5 million casino resort project is advancing to the national level, according to a November 9 announcement by the city of Beloit.
“a very good day in Beloit”
Commenting on the long-awaited advancement, Beloit City Manager Lori Luther said “It is a very good day in Beloit,” adding, “We’ve been waiting on this piece for about six years, so it’s pretty monumental to get this far,” according to Channel 3000 news.
Notice of Availability:
A notice of availability regarding the move forward in the final approval process was published by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs on Friday.
President of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Wilfrid Cleveland, said that the advance is “the farthest this project has ever been.”
While it’s not final approval, prior to Friday’s notice the application had been in review-status for six years with the federal department.
Luther reportedly said that “the public has been overwhelmingly supportive of this project. Even the concept has been in play for over 20 years.”
Much needed jobs:
Planned on 60 acres across from the Wisconsin Welcome Center along Interstate 39/90, if the project receives the green light tribal officials said in December last year that the city of Beloit could see an additional 1,500 jobs, a 300-room hotel, and a casino with 2,200 gaming machines and 50 table games.
Also included in the massive project in south-central Wisconsin, a 40,000-square-foot water park, and 30,000-square-foot conference center/entertainment space.
According to an earlier report from the Beloit Daily News, officials noted that an intergovernmental agreement that is reportedly in place would see 2 percent of all net win proceeds to go to both Beloit and Rock County. That sum could translate into $5 million in revenue, which would reportedly be divided with the former receiving $3.5 million and the latter receiving $1.5 million in annual revenue.
Possible review extension:
A public hearing will reportedly be held over the next 60 days by the city and the Ho-Chunk Nation, after which final approval would need to be given by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The plan would then make its way to the governor’s office and he would reportedly have six months to review it. That period could be extended by an additional six months.
Earlier this year, the Beloit Daily News was told by Gov.-elect Tony Evers that he would sign the deal.
On Friday, News 3 was reportedly sent the following statement by Britt Cudaback, a spokesperson for Evers:
“Governor-Elect Evers has said in the past he is inclined to support the agreement. However, the Governor-Elect will be carefully reviewing the application and listening to all sides involved with the issue to ensure a fair consideration.”
Both Price and Luther are optimistic, with Luther reportedly stating, “It is not outside the realm of possibility that this could be constructed or under construction by the end of 2019, certainly into 2020.”
The Ho-Chunk Nation owns and operates several casinos, Ho-Chunk Gaming, in Black River Falls, Baraboo, Madison, Nekoosa, Tomah, and Wittenberg, Wisconsin.