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Dane County Executive Falk, Madison Mayor Cieslewicz announce agreement on expanding gaming at DeJope

For more information contact:

City of Madison: Janet Piraino, (608) 266-9033, cell: (608) 516-2529
Dane County: Sharyn Wisniewski, (608) 267-8823, cell: (608) 712-1950

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11/17/2003

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced an agreement with the Ho Chunk Nation that will protect city and county taxpayers if the tribe adds casino gaming to its DeJope bingo hall on Madison’s southeast side.

“This agreement ensures that if the nation expands its DeJope facility, the full costs of infrastructure improvements, city services and social services for problem gamblers are picked up by the tribe and not the taxpayers,” Cieslewicz said at a press conference today.

Falk said, “My bottom line was to give citizens a voice in whether a casino opens, and to protect taxpayers. This agreement does that.”

Under the gaming compact negotiated and signed by the nation and Governor Doyle in April, the Ho Chunk have the opportunity, after criteria are met, to expand DeJope bingo hall into a full-fledged casino, with casino-style gaming such as slot machines and blackjack. The City Council and Dane County Board have until December 1 to authorize a referendum asking voters if they support the addition of casino gaming at DeJope. If no referendum is held next year, Doyle could authorize the casino if he deems it “in the public interest.”

“This is a solid agreement, worked out through tough, but respectful negotiations,” said Falk. “I respectfully ask the County Board to give the okay this week to hold a referendum on February 17.”

In addition to agreeing to pick up all short- and long-term transportation improvements needed as the result of an expansion, the nation would make annual payments to the city and county each August. In addition to an annual lump sum payment to each government, the nation would also pay the greater of a base payment or a percentage of annual net win. The percentages increase over time from 3.5% in 2005 to 4.5% in 2009 and beyond.

The county would receive minimum payments of about $3.5 million a year. The city’s payments would start at $1.5 million in 2004 and increase over time to a minimum of $4.4 million a year. Although the payment schedules differ, the present value of the payments to the city and the county are equal. The county would receive more funds up front, but the city would receive an additional $1.3 million in interest payments.

The payments would assure the City of Madison and Dane County each receive more than $45 million over 13 years, and extend indefinitely.

“We were able to work out a fair and equal agreement where my interests in the long-term financial health of the city were met,” said Cieslewicz.

The agreement also contains provisions to ensure the casino won’t compete with Monona Terrace or the Alliant Center for entertainment events, to identify and prohibit entry to problem gamblers, and to work together to preserve and protect Native American burial mounds in the city and county.

Both Cieslewicz and Falk praised the Ho Chunk Nation for agreeing to a fair and balanced agreement. “I am confident that if Dane County voters decide they want casino gaming at DeJope, their financial interests will be protected,” Cieslewicz said.

If by December 1 the City Council calls for a referendum and the County Board authorizes it, the advisory referendum will be placed on the ballot February 17, the date of the Wisconsin presidential primary.

Casino-style or “Class III” gaming could include slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette, poker and pari-mutuel betting

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