BELOIT CASINO BACKGROUND
The Ho-Chunk’s proposed off-reservation Beloit has been on life support for over 20 years. The plan for a casino has picked up momentum following a Nov. 9, 2018 ruling from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) that placed a draft environmental impact statement of the plan in the federal registry and prompted a BIA-sponsored public hearing in December of 2018, sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The final environmental impact study was released in May of 2018 with public comments between the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays in 2019.
This final draft will be followed by a BIA record of decision (ROD), and it appears that it will be approved as early as February 2020. An approval would place the matter before Governor-elect Tony Evers for the sole and final decision.
The tribe, city and county are contractually-bound through an intergovernmental agreement (IGA), first approved in 2012 and renewed every 3 year thereafter, that commits all parties to the tribe building a Class 3 gaming facility on the 33-acre trust site adjacent to Interstate 39/90 and Willowbrook/Colley roads. An additional 40 acres adjacent to the site would also be owned by the tribe, but not fall under trust status.
Tribe officials and the city appear to remain committed to the largest option to include a 139,700 square-foot casino, 175,000 square-foot retail outlet, 300-room hotel, 40,000 square-foot water park with supporting convention center and restaurants projected to create approximately 1,985 full-time jobs.
The lesser options would include: a scaled-back, 99,500-square-foot casino and include restaurant space while eliminating the hotel, retail and water park components and support around 1,127 jobs. The third option would include a retail-only development of 175,000-square feet and support 236 jobs with the last option signaling no action be taken at the site. It is not clear which proposal they will actually choose.
This would be the first off-reservation casino in Wisconsin.