Casino Stalker | Compacts

Amended Forest County Potawatomi Tribe compact sent to BIA

The hotel at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo from thisisemilyida / Instagram

An amended Class III gaming compact between the Forest County Potawatomi Community and the state of Wisconsin has been sent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for review.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the BIA has 45 days to review the agreement. The agency's answer -- due by mid-January 2015 -- will help determine whether Gov. Scott Walker (R) approves an off-reservation casino for the Menominee Nation.

Walker has given himself until February 19, 2015, to decide on the $810 million casino in Kenosha. The facility would be located 40 miles from the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee.

The amended Class III gaming compact requires the state to compensate the Potawatomis for any losses incurred from the new facility. Whether such a provision is legal under IGRA will be an issue for the BIA.

The BIA typically does not reject gaming compacts. When it does, it's usually because an agreement requires a tribe to share revenues without receiving a "meaningful concession" from a state.

In other situations, the BIA typically lets a compact go into effect without approving or rejecting it. When that happens, it's usually because an agreement includes non-gaming provisions or addresses issues beyond the scope of IGRA.

But even if the Potawatomi compact survives BIA review, an outside attorney hired by Walker warned that the compensation provision might not be legal under Wisconsin law. So the state Legislature might have to take action to address losses to the Potawatomis.

"There’s some very real concerns about what the Bureau of Indian Affairs might approve or not approve, and about whether I or even the Legislature has the legal authority to commit future legislative bodies to payments or non-payments,” Walker told reporters, according to WITI.

The Potawatomis, however, believe the amended compact is legal. A spokesperson said the tribe is willing to defend the agreement in court.

“If not, we are confident it would be held up in the court of law,” spokesperson George Ermert told The Kenosha News.

Get the Story:
Casino amendment now in BIA’s hands (The Kenosha News 12/4)
Questions raised about constitutionality of amended Kenosha Casino compact (The Madison Capitol Times 12/4)
State Might Be On The Hook With New Gambling Agreements (WXPR 12/4)
Casino Controversy continues (CBS 12/3)
“It’s complicated:” Doyle tribal compacts makes decision on Kenosha casino project challenging (WITI 12/3)
Gov. Walker will take as long as he can on Kenosha casino decision (The Milwaukee Business Journal 12/3)

Bureau of Indian Affairs Documents:
Press Release | Fact Sheet: Menominee Nation Decision | Section 20 Determination: Menominee Nation Off-Reservation Casino

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Forest County Potawatomi Tribe wins concession in casino fight (12/3)