By Dennis Shook for   Published Sep 08, 2006 at 5:15 AM
Kenosha developer Dennis Troha says he expects a final version of the environmental impact study for a Kenosha casino to be done this month.

But will it be in front of Gov. Jim Doyle for his signature by time the November gubernatorial election comes around?

Doyle has said repeatedly that he would analyze the feelings of the local community in deciding whether to sign the tribal trust agreement that is being sought for Dairyland Greyhound Park by the Menominee tribe and Troha.  That would seem to indicate he would sign the trust pact, as Kenoshans have voted twice in favor of allowing a casino in the city. Also, Doyle has often credited the revenues brought in from tribal gaming around the state for helping to balance the state ledger.

But Doyle's support might not have as much impact as it once might have because Doyle's opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis., is also hinting he might sign such an agreement.

Green does have some conditions, however.

"Before signing off on any casino project, I would want to make sure two conditions are met," Green said. "First, the project must have local support. Second, it must be a good deal for the taxpayers, with the tribes paying their fair share."

The Menominee would have to work out that financial arrangement with the state. But it is projected the Kenosha casino would provide about $2 billion in state revenues over a 25-year period, or twice the amount the Potawatomi  now provides for that same period.

One sticking point could be the amount of money the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut would receive for operating the track in its early years.

The Mohegans are scheduled to receive a fee of 13.4 percent of the casino's annual revenues for the first seven years, when the Mohegans operate the facility before turning it fully over to the tribe. A recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel estimated  that amount could run as high as $65 million.

But Evan Zeppos, a spokesman for the Kenosha project, called that a major miscalculation, saying that payment must have been determined based on gross revenues.

"Everyone knows that these things are based on net revenues, after all the employees are paid, other expenses handled, and the state is paid," Zeppos said.

Spokesmen for the Forest County Potawatomi, which operates the Milwaukee casino and has bitterly fought any Kenosha casino, have criticized the funds to the Mohegans and Troha as not helping the Menominee tribe or Wisconsin.

Zeppos said the Menominee offered the same management deal for the Kenosha casino to the Potawatomi -- an offer that was rejected.

Meanwhile, considering this is an issue involving gambling, observers note that neither the proponents nor the opponents of the Dairyland casino have hedged their bets. So far, the gaming interest money has mostly found its way to Doyle's campaign and not to Green's coffers.

Zeppos does not believe the matter would come to the governor's desk before the election in any event. "I don't think it will move that fast but nothing would surprise me," he said. "But I do expect that in the next 60 days, the project will  demonstrate measurable progress."