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The Ho-Chunk Nation’s Beloit casino and resort project took a major step forward when Gov. Tony Evers ruled in favor of the project’s proposed site being declared trust land for the tribe.

BELOIT—The Ho-Chunk Nation will meet with federal officials next week to get an update on the status of a key part of the tribe’s plan to build a casino and entertainment destination in Beloit, according to a tribe official.

Since March 24 when Democratic Gov. Tony Evers approved the Ho-Chunk Nation’s plan to build a casino and resort complex in Beloit by concurring with a prior federal decision, the tribe has waited for a portion of approximately 75 acres of land to be transferred to trust status by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

The transfer of land, near the intersection of Willowbrook and Colley Roads, is the last step needed before initial site work and construction can begin in Beloit.

Public Relations Officer Ryan Greendeer told the Beloit Daily News on Monday that the tribe intends to break ground on the project, pending the final approval by the BIA, in the spring of 2022.

“We’re excited for the project and we look forward to getting a sense of where the review is at with the (BIA),” Greendeer said. “We are hoping to come out of the meeting with a concrete timeframe for that approval.”

Greendeer said the lengthy review period stems from legal analysis of the plan based on complications of prior off-reservation, fee-to-trust land applications, along with the scope of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s project.

The groundbreaking would initiate phase one of a multi-phase project that would see the initial construction of the casino, restaurant and hotel, Greendeer said.

Final project designs are nearing the final stages, he added, and site work for soil borings was conducted earlier this year at the future casino site to aid in finalizing design.

Once the casino is operational, Greendeer said revenue generated from the casino will help fund future phases of the project.

“We are coming up on final designs,” Greendeer said. “From there, we can start talking about realizing cost estimates. It’s taking another step in the process while we are waiting for the application to be approved.”

The tribe also will need to determine a development agreement with the City of Beloit.

Initial plans for the casino project called fro a 300-room hotel, five restaurants, 50 table games and 2,200 slot machines.

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