Wisconsin approves new casino projects and online expansion - Paycheck

Wisconsin approves new casino projects and online expansion

Governor Evers recently announced that his administration had negotiated changes to its gaming compact with the Oneida Nation that will allow online betting at its casino and on reservation lands. Betting would not be allowed on Wisconsin college and university games, on elections for public office and on events with participants younger than 19.

Online sports betting could start before the Packers first game of the regular season scheduled for Sept. 12 if federal officials clear the deal.

You might remember that the state Constitution prohibits sports betting, but the tribes are sovereign nations and exempt from that ban if those changes are approved by the governor.

Wisconsin’s 11 tribes operated 14,985 gaming devices and 264 gaming tables as of October. Net tribal gaming revenues grew by 9.5%—from $1.18 billion to $1.3 billion—over the last 10 years.

What are the details of the new projects?

Evers approved a $405 million Ho-Chunk Nation casino, hotel, water park, and convention center in Beloit. The Beloit casino just north of the Illinois border will bring 1,500 long-term jobs and 2,000 construction jobs.

The governor’s approval of the Rock County casino came more than six years after Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who Evers defeated in 2018, rejected plans by the Menominee Tribe for a proposed $800 million off-reservation casino in Kenosha.

Walker said then that the Kenosha casino could have forced the state government to pay the Forest County Potawatomi Community up to $100 million to compensate the tribe for lost revenue at its Milwaukee casino.

Online sports betting has exploded since then. Noting that neighboring Illinois, Iowa and Michigan allow online sports betting, Evers said giving the Oneida Tribe that revenue source would help northeast Wisconsin’s economy.

The governor’s announcement left two important questions unanswered:

  • What percentage of online betting profits will the Oneida Tribe pay to the state government?
  • Are other Wisconsin tribes also negotiating with the Evers administration to offer online betting?

The approval of two major expansions of tribal gaming came after COVID-19 closed casinos, cutting into their profits.

The tribes had been projected to pay the state government $37.2 million in the budget year that ended June 30. But payments to the state may be reduced in the event of a natural or man-made disaster that affects gaming operations. (think COVID-19 Lockdowns.)

The Evers administration has not yet reported what tribal payments actually totaled in the year that ended June 30.


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