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Indian casinos have large disparity in payouts to tribal members

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Most Wisconsin Indians get at least some benefit from the casinos their tribes operate, but the amount varies greatly. Gannett Wisconsin Media examined mandatory audits submitted to the federal government. They showed that in 2012, members of the Forest County Potawatomi got $80,000 each in profits from their casinos in Milwaukee and Carter. The next-highest payments were about $12,000 to each Ho-Chunk tribal member. Menominee Indians received the smallest reported casino profits, around $75 each.

Some tribes reported annual pay-outs of $500 to $2,000. Others did not list their member payments in their 2012 audits.

Gannett, which operates 10 Wisconsin daily newspapers, said tribes with the lowest payments are concerned that the money can cause drug-and-alcohol problems within the tribal communities. Potawatomi officials said the payments reflect wise management and re-investments in its casinos over the last quarter century.

Gannett said the Potawatomi's gaming operations netted $226-million in 2012 -- and its 1,400 members received about half those profits. The Potawatomi's Milwaukee casino has a monopoly in that market -- something the tribe has fiercely protected in its long opposition to a new Menominee tribal casino about 30 miles down the road in Kenosha.