President Obama’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) dropped what it hopes will become a political hot potato for Governor Scott Walker, when it green lighted a new Indian gaming casino in Kenosha. The final decision rests with Walker, who issued a set of standards for expanding off reservation gambling in Wisconsin well in advance of the BIA’s decision. The Menomonee Tribe and its supporters want the Governor to change his criteria in the middle of the approval process.
Gov. Walker’s Standards for an off-reservation casino require that all three of the following criteria be met:
- Local Support for the Casino.
- Consensus in favor the application from all of the state’s 11 sovereign tribes, and
- Assurance that the new casino does not represent a net increase in gambling in Wisconsin.
The Menomonee Tribe is crying foul because one of the eleven tribes, the Forest County Potawatomi opposes the new Kenosha casino. The Potawatomi say a recent study shows that the gambling market in Wisconsin is saturated. In addition, gambling revenue which remained flat in 2012 actually declined this year meaning a new casino will not result in any new revenue or jobs but rather move economic activity from one city to the other.
Potawatomi officials have told the Business Journal that 20 percent of the Milwaukee casino’s customers come from Illinois, particularly the Chicago area. Analysts and observers alike say virtually all of that customer traffic is likely to be cut off with a casino in Kenosha.
But the Potawatomi are not the only ones who have cause to be concerned about a new casino in Kenosha. The decade long effort to build a casino in Kenosha has been mired in corruption since day one, including criminal convictions, mob ties, political bribes and corruption.
- Partners in a development company retained to develop an off-reservation casino in Kenosha (Nii-Jii Entertainment, LLC) were found to have done business with several individuals with ties to organized crime figures in Chicago. Morgan Murphy Jr., Morgan Murphy III and Robert D. Boyle failed to disclose past business links to two Chicago crime figures – John Serpico and John Credidio. The two were described as “persons of notorious and unsavory reputation”. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 2-2-2006)
- In March 2007, Kenosha developer Dennis Troha was indicted on federal charges for allegedly funneling $100,000 in improper campaign contributions to former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, who had final approval over Indian gaming in the state. Troha was charged with one count of fraud and one count of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Chicago Tribune 3-1-2007)
- Former Kenosha County Executive Alan Kehl pleaded guilty to illegally accepting $15,000 from developer Dennis Troha. (Chicago Tribune 4-9-2008)