Zion, Illinois Wants Menominee Casino

Located just 10 miles from the Menominee tribe's proposed $800 million casino in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the town of Zion, Illinois has made it clear it would welcome the development. The Zion Economic Development department sent the tribe a letter stating, "the project belongs in this area."

Despite Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s rejection of the Menominee Indian Nation’s 0 million casino in Kenosha, the tribe believes its dream may become a reality—in Illinois. The town of Zion, just 10 miles from Kenosha, has hundreds of acres available for development plus a strong interest in the plan.

Jim Allen, chief executive officer of Hard Rock International, which would have partnered with the Menominee in the Kenosha project, said he has been taking calls from Illinois. “If it doesn’t happen here, 100 percent we believe it’s going to happen on the Illinois side of the border,” Allen said.

In addition, an employee at the Zion Economic Development department sent the Menominee tribe a letter after Walker’s rejection, stating, “I can only imagine how disappointing it was to hear that Governor Scott Walker rejected the project. I believe the project belongs in this area.”

Zion Mayor Lane Harrison injected some reality into the situation, adding, “Each person on the board has a single vote including myself, so without the full support of the council, we wouldn’t even consider something like this. Certainly, we have the land available, but in the end, it would still have to be a decision for the governor and Illinois legislature.”

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has said he is open to bringing gaming to northern Illinois. “A lot of our residents leave and give big tax revenue to Indiana. I’m not sure that’s very smart,” he said. Four years ago, then-Governor Pat Quinn stated, “A Lake County casino brings back Illinois dollars that are currently being spent at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.”

Walker rejected the Menominee casino, he said, because the risk to taxpayers would be too great. “The jobs are something we looked at. But, again, if you’re on the hook for $100 million, it’s a pretty high hurdle,” he said. Walker, a Republican, is considered to be on the brink of running for president in 2016.