Michigan Gaming Tribe Continues to ‘Clear Hurdles’ Towards Lansing Casino

Michigan’s Sault St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa is awaiting a decision by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as to whether it will be allowed to put land into trust for a $245 million casino (l.) in Lansing.

The Sault St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians two years ago first filed an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to put land into trust to build a 5 million casino in the downtown area of Lansing, Michigan.

The tribe has been advised that the BIA could rule on the application in the next few weeks.

An attorney for the tribe, John Wernet, told the Detroit Free Press, “We’re optimistic that it will be in our favor. At this point, we’d be pleased just to have a decision.”

Opposing the application are the Saginaw Chippewa and Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi that both operate casinos in the area. The Saginaw Chippewa tribe operates Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mt. Pleasant; the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi runs the FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek. They argue that the Sault St. Marie tribe doesn’t have a legal claim to put the land into trust. Both expect to challenge a positive decision by the BIA in court.

If the tribe is given permission to build in Lansing it plans to buy land from the city. Wernet said, “We’re really anxious to get going.”

Supporters hope that the tribe gets a favorable ruling during the Obama administration’s final months, because the opposition might find more sympathy from an incoming administration.

The tribe proposes a casino with 3,000 slots, 48 gaming tables and dining. It would, the tribe says, create 1,500 permanent jobs and 700 construction jobs.