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The Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Casino goes dark

A rendering of a sportsbook shows two entrances that spill out to a hallway with blue carpeting and modern overhead lighting.
Potawatomi Casino Hotel
A rendering of the sportsbook that will open at Potawatomi Casino Hotel.

With all the news about Milwaukee adding music venues left and right, subtractions have been relatively rare. But we got one over the weekend, as Potawatomi Casino Hotel shut down the Northern Lights Theater following a performance by Peter Noon of Herman’s Hermits.

That type of legacy show was a big part of what filled the Northern Lights calendar. If you return to the space in a year’s time, you’ll find sporting events filling those dates — and a place to bet on them.

Last February, Gov. Tony Evers gave the OK for sports gambling at the Milwaukee casino, which planned to have something in place by the end of 2022. With the conversion of the Northern Lights space getting underway, the timeline looks more like the end of 2023 or early 2024.

An empty theater ontains several tables with four seats at each, and a series of booths, all set up in a semicircular arrangements around the stage.
Northern Lights Theater / Facebook
The Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Casino Hotel.

According to a release, the sportsbook will actually encompass two former spaces: the Northern Lights Theater and the Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill, part of which will also become a poker room. But the casino won’t wait for construction to finish before offering sports betting. In the short term, 17 kiosks will be available near the skywalk and the former sports bar, which will show games on several big-screen TVs.

“This is a transformational time at Potawatomi Casino Hotel,” CEO Dominic Ortiz said. “For more than three decades, we have served as a leader in Tribal gaming. With the addition of sports betting, we’ll be providing our guests with even more options and welcoming new visitors to the property and the Menomonee Valley.”