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Potawatomi Patrons Weigh in on Kenosha Casino


Gov. Scott Walker may decide this week whether to approve the Menominee Nations’ plan to build an $800 million casino complex in Kenosha.

The governor was set to make an announcement on Friday, but says he needs more time to review information submitted to him by tribal leaders.

Walker has said he won’t approve the project unless it has unanimous support from all eleven tribes. The Ho Chunk and Potawatomi have vehemently opposed the development. They fear their casinos could take a hit.

Jim Sokol lives in Milwaukee and gambles at Potawatomi at least once a week. He says he and his wife have good memories of Dairyland Greyhound Park, the site of the proposed Kenosha casino.

“We were affiliated with Dairyland for years and enjoyed Saturdays. I would go there but I would still come here too. I like the atmosphere. We do travel to different casinos, so we like the variety,” Sokol says.

While Sokol says he would patronize both places, Fred Robinson of Milwaukee thinks he would only frequent the Kenosha facility. Robinson says he comes to Potawatomi about once a week and rarely wins --but believes he could have a better shot at a different casino.

“Everybody that’s coming here, if they feel like they’re not getting a fair shake or they’re not winning, they’re going to take a chance on driving there,” Robinson says.

Carol Pederson and her husband drove up to Potawatomi from Lake Geneva. She says she enjoys their monthly trip.

“The machines are pretty good, good variety. But, I’d go to the one in Kenosha too, we’d visit them all. I think it would bring a lot of people from Illinois to Kenosha if they built it, a lot more tourists and they need some employment down there too,” Pederson says.

Pederson doesn’t think a Kenosha casino would take money away from Potawatomi. One person who would stay loyal to Potawatomi is David of Milwaukee.

“It’s close by, only a half hour from me. Why would I drive an hour to go to a casino?” David asks.

The question of how much gaming the region can sustain has been a recurrent theme in the Kenosha casino debate.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.