Celebrating 20 Years in 2011
The Potawatomi tribe first occupied the Menomonee Valley hundreds of years ago. At that time, the Valley flourished with natural resources and provided a bounty for many Native American tribes. Many years later the Valley served as an industrial center, and later became blighted and deteriorated into toxic brown fields. This remained a desolate area until the Forest County Potawatomi regained some of this territory and became the first to invest in the Menomonee Valley to refurbish the land and bring new development to the area. The development was the creation of Potawatomi Bingo Casino—the only off-reservation Casino in the state.
On March 7, 1991, Potawatomi Bingo opened its doors for the first time. A capacity crowd arrived to welcome this new entertainment venue to the community. That level of enthusiasm has continued for 20 years and resulted in nearly six million visitors to the Casino in 2010.
During its 20 years, the Casino has undergone two major expansions and diversified the entertainment options to become one of the leading Native American casinos in the country.
With the growth of the facility also came a growth in employment at the Casino, along with more contributions to the community, increased shared revenue payments to local governments and improved outlook for the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe.
The original Potawatomi facility in 1991 was a 45,800 square foot bingo hall seating 2,500 players.
In 2000, the Forest County Potawatomi constructed an entirely new 255,000 square foot facility that included a 500-seat theater, four-story parking structure, new bingo hall, restaurants, slot machines and table games.
In 2008, Potawatomi Bingo Casino tripled its size when it completed a $240 million expansion to a total of 780,000 square feet. New restaurants, Off-Track Betting, more gambling options, a larger parking structure and a vehicle bridge from 16th Street were part of this expansion.
Building the Flame
|Casino History 1991 – 2000|
Facts at a Glance
- Since opening its doors to the public in 1991, Potawatomi Bingo Casino has become one of Wisconsin’s most popular entertainment destinations, drawing nearly six million visits a year.
- The Casino employs a multicultural staff of nearly 2,500.
- The Forest County Potawatomi Community is committed to diversity. As one of the state’s largest minority-owned and operated businesses, Potawatomi Bingo Casino is proud to say that 53 percent of its team members are minorities and nearly 84 percent of its team members live in Milwaukee County.
Some of the milestones Potawatomi Bingo Casino achieved since opening as a Bingo Hall in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley include:
1991 – Potawatomi Bingo opens in Milwaukee
1992 – Slot machines are added, following the signing of a first-stage gaming compact with the state of Wisconsin
2000 – Phase One of Potawatomi Bingo Casino opens, offering slot machines, table games, a 2,000-seat bingo hall, restaurants and a theater.
2001 – The Casino welcomes three million visitors in its first year of expanded operation
August 28, 2006 – The Tribe breaks ground on Phase Two expansion—its most ambitious project to date. When completed in late 2008, the Casino would triple its size to more than 780,000 square feet
June 21, 2007 – Opening of vehicular/connector bridge. The bridge provides an alternate route and alleviates traffic congestion in the Menomonee Valley. All work on the bridge was completed at no cost to city of Milwaukee taxpayers
November 21, 2007 – Opening of new parking structure. A six-story parking structure to the west of the existing structure was added, which features 1,700 new parking spaces and a vehicular bridge connecting the parking structure to the James E. Groppi Unity Bridge (16th Street Viaduct).
June 2008 – Opening of expanded Casino. The expansion project added an additional 500,000 square feet of entertainment space—tripling the size of the existing Casino. Many exciting amenities were unveiled including:
- 1,300 additional slot machines and approximately 60 table games
- RuYi restaurant
- Bar 360
- Menomonee Valley Food Court
- Woodland Dreams Ballroom
- New Poker Room
- Off Track Betting