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Michigan Tribal Gaming Update

16 May 2001

Michigan's tribal gaming industry is quickly becoming one of the strongest and most competitive in the United States. The Detroit/Windsor casino market sometimes overshadows the business expansion and legal challenges that are taking place in Michigan's tribal gaming industry. Therefore, I am devoting this week's column to the Michigan tribal gaming industry.

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Manistee, Michigan

Recently, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians announced plans for their upcoming Little River Casino Resort Phase II project. In March 2001, construction began on the 218,499 sq. ft. project located in Manistee, Michigan. Completion of the resort is projected for January 2002, but the casino portion should begin to operate in December 2001.

"We are very excited about this project," said Tom Davis, General Manager of the Little River Casino Resort. "When completed, the hotel will offer our guests a full service resort experience in one of the most beautiful locations in Michigan. We believe the resort, along with our expanded gaming facilities, will further enhance Manistee's reputation as a travel destination."

The gaming area will be 44,000 sq. ft. and include 1,100 slot machines and 32 table games, including blackjack, craps, roulette, Caribbean stud poker, and Let It Ride Bonus. The "Northern Lodge" hotel will feature 88 guest rooms and 12 suites, an indoor pool, and three restaurants. Plans for conference facilities for up to 600 are also included.

When completed, the Little River Casino Resort will employ an additional 200 people, with full employment projected at over 800. In addition, hundreds of temporary construction and supplier jobs will be created during the project's building phase. Information on scheduled bid requests can be obtained from the casino's purchasing department: 213-723-1535.

The Little River Casino Resort is an enterprise of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, whose state tribal gaming compact was ratified with the State of Michigan in December of 1998. The Little River Casino is located at 2700 Orchard Highway, Manistee, Michigan 49660.

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, New Buffalo, Michigan

In April, the Dowagiac, Michigan-based Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians announced that its proposed casino, to be built in New Buffalo Township near Interstate 94 and U.S. 12, will be called Four Winds. Tribal officials said five tribal members submitted the name in a naming contest, which was open to tribe members. Once it is fully operational, the new casino is expected to create about 2,000 jobs with more than $5 million in annual revenues for nearby communities. Tribal officials are hoping to open the casino in 2002 with construction to begin before the end of this year if a federal lawsuit blocking the legality of the Tribe's 1998 State Compact can be resolved.

Gun Lake Band, Allegan County, Michigan

Last week, the United States District Court Judge Robert Holmes Bell dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians against the State of Michigan. The Band's lawsuit sought to force the State of Michigan into negotiations for a casino pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. However, Judge Bell ruled that the State will be compelled to negotiation only when the Band has had the land on which it plans to construct its casino taken into Trust by the federal government.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com