The Ho-Chunk Nation has moved one step closer to securing the green-light to construct a new casino property in the Wisconsin city of Beloit after securing further approval.

The proposed $400m+ entity is to be situated in close proximity to the jurisdiction’s state boundary with Illinois, where, just across the border, the Rockford region is aiming to construct its own such complex with a 65,000 square for Hard Rock International casino project proceeding.

Commenting that its development comes after years of “pursuing the possibility of constructing a casino in Beloit,” Ho-Chunk has secured the go-ahead from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Initially purchasing the parcel of land 11 years ago, the next step is for Governor Tony Evers to sign the document so the land can be accepted into the trust agreement. 

No date for that signing has been established, although it was noted that “Evers has stated in the past that he does support the project”.

“The Ho-Chunk Nation’s 1992 gaming compact allows for a fourth gaming facility,” Marlon WhiteEagle, Ho-Chunk president. “We’ve purchased the land and applied for trust status (from the Bureau of Indian Affairs) on the Beloit property since 2012. The progress on the development of a fourth gaming site is a long time coming.”

Original aims concerned the construction of a casino, restaurant and hotel complex at Beloit, however, no definitive plans have been established and the Ho-Chunk Nation will be exploring all avenues of enterprise.

“My office received a call from the Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tara Sweeney on Thursday afternoon telling me she’ll be sending a latter to Governor Evers. Once Governor Evers concurs a final decision will be made by the BIA to allow the Beloit project to proceed,” WhiteEagle added.

“If allowed, it will be a victory due in part to a lot of time, energy, money, hard work and determination of many, some who are no longer with us. Although we are amidst a public health pandemic the project continues to unfold.

“The real victory will be when the doors open, providing jobs, and see the positive economic impact within the local, state and tribal communities.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Ho-Chunk Nation to close all of its casinos and a large number of employees have been laid-off. As a result of the pandemic’s economic impact on the Ho-Chunk Nation the project may be delayed until casinos reopen.

One of 11 federally recognised tribe’s in Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk also boasts gaming operations, via its Ho-Chunk Gaming subsidiary, in Baraboo, Black River Falls, Nekoosa, Wittenberg, Tomah and Madison.