Make sure casino project’s reality matches the promise.
The day many thought would never come arrived recently when Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers weighed in favorably for approval of tribal gaming in Beloit.
For more than 20 years, a succession of tribal and city authorities held steadfast to the idea that a gaming and entertainment complex could be developed successfully to the region’s benefit. The proposal was supported by other governmental jurisdictions on both sides of the state line.
Now it appears the long-delayed project can come to fruition. The timing, no doubt, will be challenging. Due to the pandemic, which closed or limited operations for more than a year, tribal gaming revenues plunged, along with business at similar operations from Las Vegas to Atlantic City. How that could impact the Ho-Chunk Nation’s ability to move expeditiously toward development remains to be seen.
From Beloiters’ perspective, though, the crucial element is accountability to make sure the entire proposed development stays intact. That means surrounding the casino with the other amenities including a resort hotel, restaurants and all the rest.
Mind you, there is no reason to believe the Ho-Chunk might renege on the deal. Throughout the process, the Ho-Chunk have been reliable and honorable partners. They have kept their word, and the Beloit area needs that to continue.
Fact is, a stand-alone casino never would have captured the strong local support which marked this project. A lot of people who take a dim view of gambling supported the plan anyway because of the other amenities and the boost for regional tourist trade.
Additionally, Beloit is in a different place today than it was more than 20 years ago when the first gaming proposal surfaced. At the time, Beloit was in the early stages of digging out of a deep hole. Today, Beloit is a community with a solid record of attracting developers and jobs.
The casino-entertainment complex can be a welcome addition. Beloit expects it all.
So we urge the governor to make that clear as the state considers compact details on the Beloit plan. Likewise, area state legislators should closely monitor the plan and its progress. And local officials sold the plan based on full and complete development of the entire complex. Settle for nothing less.
The Beloit Daily News has supported the full tribal gaming and entertainment plan from the very beginning, and we still do. The prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in construction and well over a thousand jobs is as attractive as ever. The devil, though, is always in the details. It’s in all parties’ interest to make the reality as good as the promise.