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Fed rejects Kenosha Indian casino plan

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January 12, 2009

KENOSHA, WI - The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin announced last week that the federal government had denied its application to build a huge casino at Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha.

Last October the tribe asked the Department of Interior to postpone its decision pending a change in federal administrations. The request was denied so the tribe filed a lawsuit in November against the new federal requirements for off-reservation casinos.

- $808 million project
- 1,200 construction job
- 3,000 full-time jobs
- 116,100-square-foot gaming facility
- 3,100 slot machines
- 75 table games
- Greyhound track (existing)
- Pari-mutuel betting on live and simulcast racing
- Hotel (400-room)
- Restaurants
- Meeting facilities
- Entertainment center (5,000 seats)
- Indoor water park (tentative)

The casino project is not dead according to Evan Zeppos, the casino project spokesman. The tribe will continue to pursue its lawsuit and believes it will be able to resubmit its federal application.

Zeppo said, "In the middle of a recession, here we have a project that would create 3,000 full-time jobs, $1 billion of private sector investment, not a penny of taxpayer money and 1,200 construction jobs to build the facility. In addition, this would be the most lucrative compact with the state of any tribe. No one would pay the state more than this project. No one."

Menominee tribal chair Lisa Waukau said in a statement: "The department's action in rejecting the tribe's application is not based on the facts or the law. It is the product of an illegal guidance memorandum which is the current subject of litigation between the tribe and the department. The department action today ensures that this litigation will be pursued vigorously by the tribe. The only viable legal argument that the department has put forward in the litigation is that it had not made a final decision on our application; therefore, the tribe's lawsuit was premature. The department's action today removed that argument, and we are supremely confident that the court will overturn this illegal action. The rejection today is not the end of the project, only a temporary setback. The project will create thousands of jobs, generate billions of dollars in revenue for state and local government and help an impoverished tribe become economically self-sufficient. It is good for the city and county of Kenosha; it is good for the State of Wisconsin; it is good for the Menominee Indian Tribe; and it meets every legitimate federal guideline for approval. It is disappointing that the federal courts will in the end have to order the department to do the right thing, but after a thorough review of the laws and the facts, we believe there is no other possible outcome."

Southeastern Connecticut's Mohegan Tribe have invested millions of dollars in the Menominees' casino plan in Kenosha and remain committed to its partnership with the Menominee Tribe in this project. The Mohegans would help build and manage the casino.

"We stand committed to the Menominee Tribe, and fully support their plan to litigate," said Lynn Malerba, vice chairwoman of the Mohegan Tribal Council. "We believe the rejection was made for the wrong reasons, and we believe the government will come to the correct decision."

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