Wisconsin - The Forest County Potawatomi Tribe launched
a $20 million casino expansion Thursday, calling it the
largest construction project ever in Forest County and
an improvement that will create 100 new jobs.
is an exciting day for the Potawatomi and Forest County,"
Tribal Chairman Harold "Gus" Frank said during
a traditional ground-blessing ceremony.
Walsh, a tribal spokesman, said the tribe's planned $240
million expansion of its Milwaukee casino remains on hold
because of legal challenges about the scope of gaming
in Wisconsin and uncertainty about its compact with the
said the northern Wisconsin project will provide 150 construction
jobs and a payroll of $8 million for the short term while
increasing tourism in the area for years.
Lights Casino will include a new poker room and sports
bar and lounge, a larger bingo hall and more space for
slot machines and food services, he said. It will connect
to the Potawatomi Indian Springs Lodge, next to a new
60-space recreational vehicle campground.
said the new
casino will offer about 500 slot machines and 16 tables
for blackjack, roulette and craps.
current casino, built 14 years ago as a temporary pole
building to house bingo, has about 425 slot machines and
has outlived its use, he said. It will be torn down to
make way for a parking lot.
Waube, the casino's general manager, said the new wood
and brick facility will be bigger and will offer a better
gaming and entertainment experience for the 400,000 people
who visit the casino annually.
casino now employs about 250 people, Frank said. The new
facility will employ another 100 hotel and casino workers.
Construction is expected to take about a year.
said the Milwaukee project remains in limbo.
year, the state Supreme Court ruled Gov. Jim Doyle exceeded
his authority when he entered into a perpetual compact
with the Potawatomi that included allowing more games,
such as craps, poker and roulette, in exchange for a much
higher payment to the state.
the tribe makes a scheduled $44 million payment to the
state by June 30 remains up in the air, Walsh said Thursday.
isn't a new compact yet. We are in discussions with the
state right now," he said. "Both parties are
hopeful we will have a new compact amendment by that time."
tribe paid the state $40.5 million a year ago in what
Walsh called evidence of the tribe's "good faith
and commitment" despite the legal uncertainties.