Ho-Chunk Tribe has Dream Come True as Casino is Approved

The Ho-Chunk tribe’s ambition of establishing a big casino complex in Beloit has been around for a decade, and on Friday, the Bureau of Indian Affairs granted the project its final permission, clearing the way for the tribe to move through with the endeavor.

Ho-spokesman, Chunk’s Ryan Greendeer, had this to say about the development;

“This is amazing.” The approval process is now complete. From this vantage point, we could begin construction.”

Because the tribe, which has its headquarters in Black River Falls, had to first secure agreements with state and municipal authorities, the project has been in the works for close to ten years. The Native American community in Wisconsin is home to a number of casinos, the most notable of which is located close to the Wisconsin Dells.

The $405 million project was given the go-ahead by Governor Tony Evers a year ago. On Friday, the federal government said that it would set aside 32 acres of property to be utilized for the casino and would do so through a trust. Earlier, the idea for the casino was given the go light by the BIA, which stated that it would be beneficial to both the tribe and the town.

Where Would the Complex be?

The complex is scheduled to be built immediately to the west of the Interstate 39/90 freeway. The proposals for the project include for the construction of not just a casino but also a conference center, hotel, and water park in addition to the casino. The tribe estimated that it would result in the creation of 1,300 permanent employment and 3,000 jobs in construction.

Greendeer stated that the Ho-Chunk Nation views this initiative as an investment to recover from the epidemic and provide new economic possibilities for everyone.

Karena Thundercloud, the vice president of the Ho-Chunk tribe, was quoted in a statement that was made jointly by the tribe and the city. She added that “the Nation, our partners, and our community have been expecting this moment for years.”

“Because the Ho-Chunk Nation is dependent on the federal procedures, there has been some doubt about the timing, but we have remained confident in the project’s sustainability, and we look forward to a prosperous future for Beloit, the state of Wisconsin, and the Ho-Chunk Nation.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin pointed out that the administration of Vice President Joe Biden is the third administration the tribe has collaborated with in its pursuit of obtaining federal clearance for the casino.

Baldwin said in a statement that the Ho-Chunk casino that is going to be built in Beloit will be an economic boon to the Rock County area. This boon will include the creation of thousands of jobs that pay well, the support of additional business development, and the ability to make long-needed improvements to the area’s infrastructure.

Baldwin stated that the development will offer the Ho-Chunk “with a long-term source of cash to fund important housing, educational, and health initiatives for their people.” He added that this will occur in addition to the creation of employment in the community by the development.

Few casinos located off of reservations have been granted licenses to operate by the federal government around the country. The only casino in Wisconsin that is not located on a reservation is the Potawatomi casino, which can be found downtown Milwaukee.

As the governor of the state, Evers has the sole power to decide whether any off-reservation casino in the state should be approved or vetoed. Evers’ predecessor, Scott Walker, put an end to a proposal made by the Menominee tribe to establish a casino facility in Kenosha almost seven years ago.

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