SHULLSBURG—Plans for a casino in Shullsburg have resurfaced.
Tom Lethlean, mayor of Shullsburg, announced at the Shullsburg City Council, Thursday, Sept. 8, that members of the Lac du Flambeau tribe have asked if there is public support for constructing a casino and hotel on the tribe-owned land west of Shullsburg.
Lethlean met with tribal leaders and other officials last week.
Plans for a casino have been dead since 2003 when the tribe sought public support for a casino and hotel in Shullsburg but failed to get support from the state and national government.
“They [Lac du Flambeau] think that it would be a go if there is public support,” Lethlean said. “At this point what they’re saying is they want a commitment from the council to make sure we endorse the project, that we would be willing to work with them…”
Lethlean said the tribe asked that the city assist in contacting other officials, attend meetings in Madison and possibly traveling to Washington DC to meet with officials about the project.
Lethlean said the project has been downsized from the previous plans. He said leaders of the Lac du Flambeau tribe said the project would be done in phases, starting with a gaming facility and lodging. If the casino is profitable, a convention center and golf course may be added later, provided there is public support for it at that time.
The casino would create approximately 400-600 jobs when it opens. Those employment estimations are based on experiences with other facilities the tribe owns in northern Wisconsin.
Lethlean said Lac du Flambeau said they have the money available to start the project if they have support from the community.
“I feel comfortable with what they are talking about,” Lethlean said. “I am supportive of it.”
Lethlean said in January 2003 the vote in the city of Shullsburg for support of the casino showed 87 percent in favor of the project.
“My feeling is if they want to know if we as the public still support them, I think we need to show them as soon as we can,” alderman Danny Spillane said. “I don’t know if that means another county meeting up at the school or have a referendum again to do this.”
Marsha Eisenweiler, city clerk, said a referendum could be held during the April election.
“I will contact them tomorrow and tell them the council is 100 percent behind their efforts and we’ll do everything we can to enable the process,” Lethlean said. “There are a lot of hurdles to go through.”
Lethlean said the tribe has to meet three criteria: it has to be more than just a casino, the public has to support it and there has to be a consensus of the tribal leaders in Wisconsin. He said of the 11 tribes in Wisconsin two may not give approval because of possible competition with Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi casinos.
“When it was addressed at the meeting, they thought they could get through those issues,” Lethlean said.