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ICYMI: Working for Wisconsin: A Look at Consensus Among the Tribes


Location: Madison, WI

More than two years ago, I set the criteria to approve any potential casino application in the State of Wisconsin:

1) Support from the community;
2) Consensus from the 11 tribal governments; and
3) No increase in overall gambling.

In 2011, the criteria was first explained at a meeting with all of the tribal leaders, and since then, it has been discussed many times over the past two-plus years.

Yesterday, I provided additional information on support from the community as it relates to the proposed Kenosha casino. Today, I will explain the need for consensus from all 11 tribal governments.

Gambling in Wisconsin is not at all like opening a hardware store or a gas station. It does not operate in a free market. If there was a free market, Donald Trump, Steve Wynn, or anyone else could open a casino.

Instead, gambling in our state is a highly regulated monopoly. It is limited to the 11 tribal governments. That is why any off-reservation casino opened here requires an extensive application and review from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) before sign off from the Governor. In fact, the application for the proposed Kenosha casino was submitted to BIA in 2004.

In addition, each of the tribal governments in Wisconsin has compacts with the state, which were negotiated long before I was elected Governor. The compacts are separate legal agreements between each individual tribe and the state.

These compacts could be significantly impacted, if a new casino is approved and opens off reservation anywhere in Wisconsin. Some compacts may require the state to offset tribal gaming losses, if a tribe loses revenues due to a new casino. At least one agreement could obligate the State to offset any reduction in gaming revenues to that tribe--which could cost taxpayers real money.

Since a new off-reservation casino would potentially have a dramatic impact on other tribes, it only makes sense to require a consensus. We are not alone. The State of Michigan, for example, takes the further step of requiring consensus of all their state's tribes before an individual tribe can submit an application for a casino.

Tribal leaders in other states have expressed support for my criteria to require a consensus among the tribes for any off-reservation gaming.

We have worked to reach that consensus. Since August 28, my Secretary of the Department of Administration met numerous times with the Menominee and with the other three tribes raising concerns about the Kenosha casino proposal. Several weeks ago, I held a meeting with leaders from these four tribes in my conference room in the State Capitol.

Our intent was to find a win/win solution where the tribes potentially losing revenue and jobs could be given a way to offset those revenue and job losses. In the end, don't we all want an actual net increase in jobs and not just a shift of jobs from one spot to another?

My administration facilitated these discussions for two months. So far, one tribe reached an agreement with the Menominee, but as I mentioned on Tuesday, the other two remain far from reaching an agreement with the Menominee.

There continues to be disagreement between the Menominee and these two tribes over the potential impact of a new casino. For example, the Menominee proposal suggests the Potawatomi Bingo Casino would lose at most $24.3 million annually, but the Potawatomi claim that their loss would be $158 million annually. Coincidentally, the Menominee claim $157,192,048 of their annual new revenues for a Kenosha casino would come from Wisconsin.

We set these three criteria more than two years ago, so I would have objective measures to review any proposed casino and make sure the review process would not be driven by political pressures. Given the potential legal impact on all tribal compacts, it is especially important to have this objective criteria by which to evaluate any proposal.

Tomorrow, we will talk about our third criteria: no net increase in gambling in Wisconsin. Thanks for taking the time to read our updates.


Governor Scott Walker

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