A Hard Rock Casino Could Soon Join the Wisconsin Sports Betting Ranks

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jan 23, 2024 07:00 PM
A Hard Rock Casino Could Soon Join the Wisconsin Sports Betting Ranks

The Wisconsin sports betting scene may be in the process of adding another casino to the fold.

Last Wednesday, January 17, the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a proposal for the construction of a Hard Rock Casino in the area. The plan was approved by a 10-9 voting margin, and it brings Kenosha County one step closer to adding a casino that they’ve sought to build for years. 

Constructing another casino, of course, has implications beyond just the casino industry itself. A Hard Rock Casino in Kenosha County would no doubt seek a license to offer sports betting in Wisconsin. But would they be granted that opportunity right out of the gate? Is this casino even guaranteed to be built? What, exactly, are the contents of the narrowly approved proposal? Read on to explore the full details of what could wind up being a pretty huge development for sports gambling in Wisconsin and The Badger State’s general gaming industry at large.

Full Details of Hard Rock Casino Proposal in Wisconsin’s Kenosha County

When promoting this proposal, sponsors accentuated the jobs a Hard Rock Casino in Wisconsin would create as well as the prospective revenue a new facility would generate. Here’s FOX 6 News in Milwaukee with the full scoop:

“The land for the proposed casino is on County Highway K off I-94 and would take over an area that is currently farmland. The Menominee tribe would run the casino, and the city of Kenosha would own the land. The Menominee tribe shared a document associated with the casino proposal with FOX6 News earlier this month. It described a gaming area with 1,500 slot machines and an estimated 50 table gamesplus restaurants, bars and more. The proposal also calls for a 150-room Hard Rock Hotel, a Hard Rock Cafe and a Hard Rock Live venue with 2,000 seats.

“The document said the casino project is estimated to cost $360 million and create nearly 1,000 construction jobs over 18 months. It would employ an estimated 1,000 people once open, with average full-time pay around $54,000. The casino is expected to generate more than 2.4 million annual visits, the document said, with nearly 1.6 million of those coming from out of state. The estimated economic output would be $352 million for Kenosha County and $492 million for the state.”

The proposed venue, in particular, would represent a unique element for the state of Wisconsin. No other casino in the state boasts a similar entertainment spot. And if all goes according to plan, the combination of the venue and hotel could turn Kenosha County into a tourist destination.

Though the report doesn’t specifically mention anything about Wisconsin sports betting, the state’s plans to expand gaming options suggest the casino would have an opportunity to get a license.

How Would a New Casino Impact Wisconsin Sports Betting? 

It isn’t immediately clear whether the Hard Rock Casino would get a Wisconsin sports betting license from its inception. However, the state is begging for some additional sports gambling venues at the moment.

At present, the Wisconsin sports betting market doesn’t rank among the top 10 in the United States. That is to some extent because of their modest population. The Badger State is 20th in total citizenship, according to StatsAmerica.org. Other regions have much larger demographics to target.

Still, you could argue the rollout of Wisconsin sports betting has underachieved relative to its potential. The state may not be too densely populated, but there are a handful of larger markets that don’t even offer sports wagering. This includes Georgia, California and Texas, each of which would rank as a bigger sports betting market than Wisconsin. With those three currently out of the picture, The Badger State has the sports betting demographic—and pro sports team collection—to feature more prominently in market rankings. 

Accessibility appears to be at the heart of this issue. That’s where a new casino comes in. There are currently only three sports betting locations in Wisconsin, with plans to implement a fourth and a fifth. Licensing the Hard Rock Casino upon its completion would put The Badger State on track for six. 

Whether that’s enough sportsbooks in Wisconsin is debatable. The market is likely large enough to support more. Even so, six sportsbooks is double the present-day amount. That alone would make it easier for certain residents to place wagers. And by extension, that would also increase Wisconsin sports betting revenue—most likely by a significant margin.

Is the Hard Rock Casino the Key to Wisconsin Reaching Their Sports Betting Potential?

While another casino would surely help expand the Wisconsin sports betting scene, it may not vault the state up the market rankings. Like always, material expansion may hinge on the legalization of online sports betting in Wisconsin.

Right now, residents of America’s Dairyland cannot place mobile wagers inside the state. And it doesn’t appear that Wisconsin is going to change their stance on online sportsbooks in the United States anytime soon. Experts in the industry believe they’re committed to maximizing tribal revenue. Allowing corporate sports betting operators to enter the market compromises that.

At the same time, most view the legalization of Wisconsin online sports betting as inevitable. It may take years. It might even take more than a decade. But online sports wagering in the United States is much too popular for Wisconsin to permanently remain on the sidelines. 

Exact figures aren’t available, but it’s estimated that over 80 percent of all sports bets placed in the United States during the 2023 were processed through an online operator. In some parts of the country, that share is above 90 percent. So unless Wisconsin is content to limit their own revenue potential, the construction of a Hard Rock Casino won’t be the end of their gambling expansion. Rather, it will be just the beginning.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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