Once again a group seems to be considering Kenosha as a potential location to host a tribal casino.
Recently, a company, which headquarters are situated at the same address as Hard Rock International’s corporate offices agreed to pay up to $100,000 for the chance to purchase 60 acres of land in the city that is owned by the Village of Bristol. As a village administrator shared, the company has not revealed the reason why it wants to purchase the property but it seems it really wants to acquire the land, which the village has been trying to dispose of for a few years.
Under the option agreement, Kenosha Landco Co. LLC will be given the opportunity to purchase the property for over $15 million.
The option agreement with Kenosha Landco attracted little public attention. Furthermore, there is a secrecy clause in the deal under which neither one of the parties is allowed to directly or indirectly unveil, comment or make communications regarding the contents of the letter before the Option Agreement is executed without sending a written notice to the other party beforehand.
According to experts, a casino venue managed by Hard Rock in Kenosha would attract gamblers from Wisconsin and the neighboring states. The question is whether there is enough business for Kenosha but, for the time being, things seem pretty promising.
According to a small regional website called Wisconsin Spotlight, a Kenosha casino proposal could be officially unveiled by the end of the summer.
Kenosha Has Already Been a Place of Interest for Casino Operators
The truth is that Kenosha has been a place of expansion interest for casino operators since tribal casinos became legal in the 1990s. The destination’s close proximity to the state line is considered a great advantage as a potential casino venue could lure gamblers from both southeastern Wisconsin and the Chicago metro area.
As mentioned above, there have been several efforts to open a casino in Kenosha so far.
The first attempt to establish a casino in Kenosha failed following some questions regarding the background of the project’s Chicago investors and their possible links to organized crime. Then, a few years ago, Hard Rock joined efforts with the Menominee tribe to establish a casino complex at the site of a shuttered dog racing track, with the project estimated at about $800 million. Unfortunately for the company, then-Governor Scott Walker vetoed that deal in 2015.
So, if Hard Rock is really considering Kenosha now, this will be the second time for the company to attempt to establish a presence in the lucrative state line market.
Only Tribal Casinos Are Currently Allowed in Wisconsin
The potential establishment of an Indian casino in Kenosha would further expand a market that is already tightly packed with various gambling options offered by competitors. Since the legalization of casinos in the state of Illinois and on reservation land in Wisconsin, gambling operators have been raking in the winnings.
So far, casino venues are already operating in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Rockford, Illinois, with gambling operators also hoping to establish facilities in Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois. The Rockford casino is owned by Hard Rock. Furthermore, the Ho-Chunk tribe plans to establish a Beloit casino on off-reservation land, while a number of casino venues, including a large gambling hall in close proximity to Wisconsin Dells, are owned by the Black River Falls tribe.
Opening a casino in off-reservation land is not easy. Considering the fact that for the time being, only a Wisconsin tribe is allowed to run a casino in the state, Hard Rock would have to join efforts with a Native American tribe in order to start offering its services to local customers. If it decides to do so, the tribe would have to file a petition to the Federal Government to place the chosen land into trust – a process that could take up to several years. It is the Governor who has the authority to give the green light or veto any casino venue situated on non-tribal land in the state.
Apart from these difficulties, a Kenosha casino project could face the opposition of local anti-gambling groups that are against new or expanded gambling in the state. Some campaigners believe that a casino does not benefit a community’s economy much because gamblers prefer staying within the venue’s premises and playing the table games and slots rather than spending their money on any other tourist attractions in the area.