Evers signs off on new Ho-Chunk Nation casino in Beloit

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says he supports a decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior to take 32 acres of land in Beloit to allow the Ho-Chunk Nation to develop a new casino.

Evers announced Wednesday he’s signing off on the plans after promising he’d approve the project when he ran for governor.

The Ho-Chunk Nation says the project will create more than 1,500 jobs for the Beloit area at the casino and resort complex, and more than 2,000 construction jobs.

“As we work to bounce back from this pandemic, we must do everything we can to support economic development in communities across our state,” Gov. Evers said in a statement. “The Ho-Chunk Nation and local officials in Beloit and Rock County have been working together toward providing jobs and long-term economic support in the region, and this is an important step forward in making the Beloit casino a reality.”

The governor’s office says the proposed complex would be one of the biggest in the state, including 300 hotel rooms, 45,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, and a 40,000-square foot water park just north of the Illinois border and west of I-39/90.

Rep. Mark Spreitzer, a Democrat representing Beloit in the state legislature, said he’s happy to see the project more than two decades in the making take the next step.

“The promise of not just a casino, but a hotel, convention center, water park, and other entertainment opportunities has long been a dream of the Beloit community,” Spreitzer said. “This project will create more than a thousand permanent jobs and provide a significant economic boost to our community.”

The Department of the Interior still has to issue its final determination on whether to take the land into a trust, and the Ho-Chunk Nation will need to amend its gaming compact with the state before the project moves forward.