Casino Squabbles Crossing Stateline

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Could the fight over roulette in Beloit prove to be a Russian Roulette for future projects in Rockford?

Reports surfaced that Ken Hendricks, a Wisconsin developer in charge of revamping the Barber Coleman complex, would leave Rockford out of any of his future development ideas.

"He's told me that he doesn't have any interest in the casino, so I keep hearing he's a big part of it, but he told me on the phone directly to me that he didn't have any part in that casino," Rockford Mayor Doug Scott said.

The recent spat followed weeks of political back and forth across the border. Some Beloit officials are angry about Rockford's complaint at a recent Beloit casino hearing that questioned whether two Chippewa tribes could set up business off the reservation.

Beloit City Manager Larry Arft says the complaint was disguised behind a bigger financial concern, while Scott counters the concern is legitimate.

"All this talk about how terrible that is, and how unethical is the word one person used is unfortunate, because it's not terrible or unethical. It's a fundamental change and law that is going to be interpreted across the country," Scott said.

Beloit's city manager labels the Rockford opposition as out of state tampering to a legal federal process when Indian tribes apply for a gaming license.

Arft also labels potential intervention as sabotage.

"They want to put the largest casino that's three times larger than anything Illinois has and put it right on the stateline with a business plan that wants a majority of Illinois dollars. That doesn’t sound very cooperative to me," Scott said.

It’s a cross-state squabble over casino revenues, that Beloit leaders say could have long-term effects on economic cooperation for both sides of the stateline.