Opinion: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe greed

"The word "monopoly" has its origins in the Greek words for "one seller," and its definition is just that: the exclusive control by one company of a service or product. A politically powerful monopoly exists in southeast Wisconsin, where the Forest County Potawatomi Community has cornered the local gaming market with the only full-service casino in the region in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley.

Potawatomi Bingo Casino has operated more than 100 miles from any real and substantive Wisconsin competition since it opened in the early 1990s, enjoying a monopoly that has transformed the once-destitute tribe into a super-wealthy political powerhouse. Today, the Potawatomi have the financial ability to give their 1,299 members quality housing, health care, educational opportunities and, according to media reports, at least $68,000 in leftover cash - nearly twice the average Wisconsin annual income - apiece every year.

In recent years, Potawatomi leaders also have directed millions of dollars in gaming profits into a sophisticated, multi-state political operation aimed at killing plans by another poor Wisconsin Tribe, the 8,300-member Menominee, to build an entertainment center and casino in Kenosha, about 35 miles to the south. Potawatomi's expensive campaign to block competition - which by conservative estimates has already reached $5.4 million - is detailed in a new report by Casino Competition for Wisconsin, appropriately titled "A Litany of Greed."

The Litany (available at www.CasinoCompetitionForWisconsin.com) chronicles how an army of high-priced lobbyists, political pollsters, ad executives, PR experts and lawyers are carrying out Potawatomi's anti-competition battle plan - sadly, even several Milwaukee-area nonprofits beholden to the Potawatomi for funding have been drafted to lend their name to the misguided cause."

Get the Story:
Evan Zeppos: Potawatomi's campaign is 'Litany of Greed' (The Small Business Times 11/5)