The Beloit Daily News recently called on Governor Evers to quickly approve the Ho-Chunk tribe’s request for a Beloit casino. At the same time the BDN insisted that only a casino with a “Full Monty” of amenities is acceptable (That is, water park, 300 room hotel, convention center and more).
This presents a dilemma: what if the tribe’s behavior can be interpreted as resulting in a long term bait and switch strategy to win approval for a casino and then decides to forgo the promised amenities? We believe that the Governor should fully review the tribe’s request in order to avoid another Foxconn-type deal gone wrong.
Below we propose seven questions to the Beloit City Council that need to be answered before the Governor makes his decision. These locally elected representatives should provide citizens with answers to exactly what kind of development will take place next to the city’s sewerage plant. Without this information Beloit is vulnerable to being left with a diminished project that is not financially beneficial to the city. Without this information the Governor should not approve the application.
We invite the BDN to ask our City Council the following questions:
• Our reading of the Intergovernmental Agreement between the City/County and the Ho-Chunk tribe concludes that the agreement does not obligate/require the tribe to develop the full casino project. Is that your understanding?
• If our reading of the IGA is correct, what recourse does the City of Beloit have if the tribe decides to develop a stand-alone casino (as the phase 1 mentioned by a tribal representative) and never proceeds to the other phases?
If our reading of the Intergovernmental Agreement is correct, then the below questions to the Council become extraordinarily important.
• Our reading of the economic projections presented in the Bureau of Indian Affairs impact statement indicates that the full casino development is not financially viable. Would you ask the City Manager and staff to commission an independent economic analysis of the financial feasibility of the full casino development?
• Would you insist that the tribe’s recent (and private) economic analysis of the Beloit Casino project be made public? This would inform the Governor of the actual feasibility of the complete casino development.
• If you are not in favor of a stand-alone casino, will you ask the Governor to delay his approval until after March 26, 2021 when the Intergovernmental Agreement is up for renewal? This would allow the city council to rewrite the IGA to require the water park, hotel and convention center. This would also be an opportune time to ask why this fundamental contract language was not included in the original agreement.
• Would you continue to support the casino even if it became apparent that it is not in the tribe’s interest to go beyond the Phase 1 development of a stand-alone casino?
• How will you publicly explain to your constituents that you were willing to settle for a second-rate casino development after years of promising that Beloit was going to be the recipient of a major Las Vegas style destination casino with thousands of jobs?