Preliminary Approval Granted to Hard Rock Kenosha Casino Project With Menominee Tribe

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, a proposed $350 million casino resort is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Hard Rock International are seeking approval at the local, state, and federal levels to build the tribal casino. The first hurdle was cleared when the Kenosha City Council voted 12-3 in favor of an intergovernmental agreement between the Menominee Indian Gaming Authority and the City of Kenosha.

The agreement involves the transfer of approximately 60 acres of land owned by the city, located just west of Interstate 94 at 60th Street, to the Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock. Hard Rock, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, has agreed to operate the casino and share in its profits in exchange for financing the project to help the tribe achieve its economic goals.

The city council will give final consideration to the casino on November 20, and if approved, the tribe will then need to have the land taken into federal trust by the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. This is necessary for the tribe to operate Class I and II gaming, such as bingo games and pull tabs, and potentially Class III gaming, including slot machines, table games, and sports betting.

The proposed casino and resort would include 1,500 slots, 55 table games, a sportsbook, a Hard Rock Café, buffet, steakhouse, Asian restaurant, a 150-room hotel, and an 18,000-square-foot ballroom. However, not all councilors are in favor of the project, with some expressing concerns about the speed of the approval process and the impact of gambling in the area.

This is not the first time the Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock have sought approval for a casino in Kenosha. Nearly a decade ago, a larger $800 million resort development gained approvals but was ultimately rejected by the governor, who has the final say on revenue-sharing agreements for tribally owned casinos. The tribe is hopeful that the current governor will be more supportive of their economic expansion plans, particularly given the strategic location of Kenosha between Chicago and Milwaukee.

The Menominee Tribe currently owns the Menominee Casino Resort in Keshena, which is much smaller than the proposed Kenosha casino and is hoping to expand its economic footprint in a more populous market. If the project moves forward, it could bring significant economic development to the region.