Evers OKs plans for Ho-Chunk casino in Beloit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers has signed off on the Ho-Chunk Nation's plans to open a casino and entertainment complex in Beloit.

The U.S. Department of the Interior in April approved taking 32 acres in Beloit into trust for the purpose of developing the complex. Federal law gives governors the power to approve or reject off-reservation casinos.

“As we work to bounce back from this pandemic, we must do everything we can to support economic development in communities across our state,” said Gov. Evers. “The Ho-Chunk Nation and local officials in Beloit and Rock County have been working together toward providing jobs and long-term economic support in the region, and this is an important step forward in making the Beloit casino a reality.”

Evers promised in 2018 when he was running for governor he would approve the project. He announced Wednesday he is concurring with the federal decision, saying the project will create thousands of jobs.

The Department of the Interior now must issue a final determination on taking the land into trust and Evers and the Ho-Chunk must amend the tribe's gaming compact with the state.

According to a news release from Gov. Evers' office, the complex would include one of the largest casinos in the state, a 300-room hotel with more than 45,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, and an approximately 40,000 square foot indoor waterpark. The Nation also plans to develop additional entertainment or retail businesses on an adjacent property. The complex would be located just north of the Illinois border and immediately west of I-39/90.

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