Reality Check: Ad opposes new casinos in Wisconsin

New casino proposed in Beloit
Reality Check: Ad opposes new casinos in Wisconsin

Just when the political ads were done, a group has begun running an ad trying to convince people not to support any new casinos in Wisconsin.

“Twenty-four is a good number. There are 24 hours in a day, 24 karats in pure gold, and 24 casinos in Wisconsin,” the TV ad says.

There are actually 19 full-fledged casinos in the state, according to the Department of Tourism. Those casinos are run by 11 tribes that have gaming compacts.

There are six other smaller gaming operations primarily in convenience stores.

“But now out-of-state developers want in to build more (casinos), often hundreds of miles off the reservation,” the ad says.

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. There are four proposed new casinos being debated in Wisconsin — one of them in Beloit, and the others in Kenosha, Sheboygan and Shullsburg.

It’s true that those locations are not on Indian reservations, but it’s not true that only “out-of-state developers” are the ones behind them, WISC-TV reported.

Only Wisconsin Native American tribes are allowed to open casinos in the state under gaming compacts. Some of the tribes have partnered with development firms to invest in or design the casinos and at least three of those firms are from out of state.

As far as their locations, the tribes in these cases have all purchased pieces of land in areas that aren’t near their reservations, which has been and can be allowed.

To get these casinos approved, the tribes need to show the Bureau of Indian Affairs that they have some historical connection to these communities.

“Previous casino developers brought corruption and mismanagement,” the ad says.

WISC-TV found that this claim also needs clarification.

One of the casino projects has had trouble. A developer involved with the Kenosha casino, Dennis Troha, pleaded guilty in 2007 to funneling illegal donations to Gov. Jim Doyle to try to get approval for the casino. That project was denied by the federal government in 2009.

The re-application involved a California-based developer who pulled out earlier this year after reported issues with keeping up payments on the property.

The group paying for the ad, called Enough Already Wisconsin, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group that’s not required to disclose its donors. The group’s executive director, Republican operative Brian Nemoir, would only tell WISC-TV that the group includes supporters who believe the “expansion of off-reservation gaming is bad for Wisconsin.”

Ad opposes new casinos in Wisconsin

Nemoir wouldn’t say whether the Potawatomi tribe, which has been vocally opposed to these projects, is a donor.