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US – Menominee tribe given green light to build Hard Rock casino in Wisconsin

By - 5 January 2024

The Kenosha City Council has given the green light to the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin to build a casino in partnership with Hard Rock International on a 60-acre site west of Interstate 94 in Kenosha.

The project still needs signing off by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, the governor and Kenosha County, which the tribe hopes to get by the end of 2025. The casino is estimated to cost $360m and will create nearly 1,000 construction jobs over 18 months, as well as employing an estimated 1,000 people once open. It will operate with 1,500 slots and 50 table games, as well as a 150-room Hard Rock Hotel, a Hard Rock Cafe and a Hard Rock Live venue with 2,000 seats. it aims to attract 2.4m annual visits with nearly 1.6m of these coming from out of state. The economic windfall is expected to be in the region of $352m for Kenosha County and $492m for Wisconsin.

Gena Kakkak, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin chair, said: “We thank the City Council for its continued support for and confidence in the many positives that the Kenosha Hard Rock Casino will bring to the community. We also appreciate the ongoing support and leadership of Mayor John Antaramian on this issue. The benefits for Kenosha include more than 1,000 new jobs, a multi-million dollar boost to the local economy, and new and exciting restaurants and entertainment options for residents and visitors alike. In addition, residents will share in the success of the casino through annual payments to Kenosha that will contribute millions of dollars to more than cover the costs of essential municipal services related to the project.”

“The Menominee believe that to be good for us, the Kenosha Hard Rock Casino has to be good for the community, and the City Council’s approval of the agreement reinforces that it is a good deal for Kenosha. The City benefits and the Tribe benefits. We look forward to continuing discussions with the County Board to answer any remaining questions there might be”

Gary Besaw, vice chairperson of the Menominee Kenosha Gaming Authority, said: “The Hard Rock Kenosha project will deliver 10 times the revenue to our tribal government versus (the) existing small casino on the reservation. The tribe would use this money to build schools, improve roads, build additional facilities for our precious elders and youth.”

Joey Awonohopay, Chairperson of the Menominee Kenosha Gaming Authority, added; “We will pay for core infrastructure, mediate traffic concerns by paying for road improvements and expansions where necessary and have committed to build the entire entertainment facility, including Hard Rock Live, meeting space, a 150-room hotel — all in addition to our casino floor surrounded by Hard Rock Cafe and other great restaurants.”

Loren Gill, who represented Hard Rock at the meeting, said: “We have some of the most high-tech facial recognition, license plate readers and crime deterrent features possible in any industry. We have thousands of cameras, but — most importantly — we partner with city, county, state and federal agencies to make sure we do our absolute best with regards to taking care of the community.”

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