Download here: Kenosha Casino Community Concerns
There is no local, state, or federal timeline requiring the IGAs to be fast tracked. This process has been cloaked in a cloud of secrecy and deception- and now City and County officials are rushing to approve Intergovernmental Agreements without time to fully understand and discuss this secretly negotiated deal.
What is the Governing Authority?
We don’t know. The City Administrator told WGTD (public radio) in an interview on July 18 that an agreement between at least the city and the Casino Developers (AKA the Florida Tribe) “is all but finalized.” Nearly 4 months have passed, and the Menominee Tribe has not bothered to update their Chapter 594 ordinances, (last updated in 2004 and reflects the wrong parcel of land). These ordinances are supposed to mirror City and County ordinances, but both IGAs say they will be updated similar to your local ordinances.
What does “similar” mean? How is it defined? That’s a very subjective and ambiguous term. Once this IGA is signed, you have lost your ability to define “similar.” That’s not good government.
The Seminole Tribe is not covered in either proposed IGA as neither includes a waiver of sovereign rights specifically for the Florida Seminole Tribe. Menominee has no obligation under the IGA to compel Seminole to construct, manage or operate this casino in compliance with the IGA.
This Casino Proposal Has Not Followed a Normal Process. There is no federal, state, or local deadline to rush this intergovernmental agreement through. Citizens, elected officials, and the media have been repeatedly told that this would be considered after the first of the year, yet this IGA with few details and no transparency suddenly and surprisingly arrived late last week, committee meetings set up this week and a potential vote on the floor next week, 2 days prior to Thanksgiving, the biggest and most traveled American holiday.
With less than a week, and without experts acting in the best interests of the County, you have had about a week to digest a project that should take months to pull together.
- The City and County are proposing separate IGAs, when historically the agreement has been joint. Separate IGAs place both the City and the County in a much weaker position to protect your citizens.
- Just because the city is pushing forward its IGA, doesn’t mean the county has to. You will not lose your ability to negotiate an IGA further down the road. Rushing through an IGA without the necessary details to protect Kenosha’s best interest will, however, result in you forfeiting any future ability to include what is missing in all of the “to be determined” throughout the Tribe’s proposal. The most responsible and prudent position to take is to wait until all of the details are spelled out.
- Not a single picture, description or rendering is included in either IGA. We have no idea what (and when) they are proposing to build. There are no specifications for the Hard Rock Live and the Sports Book is listed as TBD. What exactly will be built? When will it be built? What assurances do you have that anything beyond a warehouse casino will be built?
- The agreement does not include an economic impact study or a traffic study, and it lacks ancillary agreements for items such as labor and tourism. How do you plan to ensure that County citizens and businesses are not unfairly and negatively impacted? You will not have the ability go backwards to fix this.
- Since the proposed Casino will be much smaller than originally planned, why do they need 60 acres? The Gary, Indiana Hard Rock is 30 acres. What exactly are the Tribes planning to do with all of that exact land, smack in the middle of Kenosha. The IGA does not address any limitations.
Who’s in Charge of Law Enforcement?
It’s Unclear. Unlike the other tribes in Wisconsin, State criminal law does not automatically extend to the Menominee reservation lands. Therefore, it is very possible the state, county and city WILL NOT have jurisdiction over criminal conduct on the proposed Kenosha casino site. The potential lack of criminal jurisdiction by the state at the proposed Kenosha casino site was highlighted in a 2015 State Department of Administration review of the prior Menominee and Florida Seminole casino proposal.
Will We See a Spike in Violent Crime?
Most likely. According to a panel study of Wisconsin Counties, violent crime increases 30% after the opening of a casino and arrests increase 50% in the community after the opening of a casino. In addition, in Wisconsin counties with a casino, arrests for forgery, fraud, embezzlement and receiving stolen property are about 50% above other counties. A study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows counties surrounding a casino have seen a 10 percent increase in auto thefts, larceny, violent crime and bankruptcy after the opening of a casino.
Will there be enough Police to Keep us Safe?
Probably Not. The total number of law enforcement officers in Wisconsin has dropped to its lowest level since the Department of Justice began tracking it. Coupled with a near-record low unemployment rate, recruiting new officers would be increasingly difficult.
Is the Market Oversaturated?
It appears so. Casino development has exploded in the US over the past few decades, making them more easily accessible and over-saturating the industry market. A 2022 economic brief from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond examined the impact of casinos from a variety of social and economic perspectives. They found that, “despite tax revenues being a major motivator for state legalization of casinos, there is little evidence that they boost state taxes. We also find that the job gains from casino development are limited to those in lower density areas that lack nearby casinos.”
Will Taxpayers Take a hit?
It certainly looks that way. The Wisconsin Legislative Research Bureau recently released a report that said the financial impact on taxpayers is less than originally thought. Conveniently, the report failed to quantify “less” – which over a 10-year period could be nearly $400M ($250M per the Potawatomi compact and $140M per the Ho Chunk compact). This casino could cost Wisconsin taxpayers $400M, with millions of dollars going to a Florida Tribe.
Will a Casino Hurt Small Business
It seems likely. Casinos not only have a negative impact on small local businesses such as restaurants, retail, and hotels, but they will also be a drain on an already over-taxed labor pool.
According to the economists at the National Association of Realtors, Casinos have an “unambiguously negative” impact on neighboring property values. Casinos also have a negative impact on surrounding businesses as they operate as a time-limited, self-contained entity that captivates its customers until they have exhausted their money rather than provide foot-traffic to nearby businesses.
Will a Casino Create Jobs or Addicts?
Regional casinos leave behind far more gambling addicts than jobs. One of the primary rationales for regional casinos is to “create jobs” but facts show that casinos leave behind far more gambling addicts than jobs. Illinois has had an explosion of regional casinos in recent years. According to a report by the Illinois Gambling board, casinos create far more addicts than jobs.
According to the National Institute of Health, at least 1 out of every 20 citizens have had their lives turned upside down because they became addicted to commercialized gambling, and studies reviewed by the Institute of American Values revealed that between 40 to 60 percent of casino revenue comes from problem gamblers, and those problem gamblers are increasingly drawn from the vulnerable elderly.