HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 18Issue 7Lansing City Council Votes to Approve Casino; Tribe to Conduct Vote in Mid-April, Faces Opposition

This week, the Lansing City Council voted in favor of advancing the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians’ (“Tribe”) plan to create a $245M gaming facility in downtown Lansing with the capacity for up to 3,000 slot machines and 48 table games. The project is also supported by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who has cited that the facility could substantially contribute to the state and city’s tax base and provide a scholarship fund for local students.

The Kewadin Lansing proposal passed the City Council by a vote of 7-1. According to the Lansing State Journal, this allows the city to sell property to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and approves agreements that would govern the project.

Tribal Vote

Notably, on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, the Tribe announced that it plans to circulate a voter referendum to registered Sault Tribe voters regarding the approval of the proposed Lansing casino project. Ballots will be mailed to all registered tribal voters on April 12, 2012.

According to the Tribe, the referendum petition regarding Resolution 2012-11: Approval of Comprehensive Development Agreement with the City of Lansing, Michigan; Authorization to purchase land in Lansing, Michigan using income from the Land Settlement Trust Settlement Trust Fund; Approval of Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Lansing, was accepted by the board March 13, 2012.

“This is an extremely significant vote,” stated Sault Tribe Chairman Joe Eitrem. “This could be the source of funds we so desperately need to fully fund and restore membership programs that we have had to cut, to replenish the Self Sufficiency Fund, to pay down our debt, and to bring more services to members.”

For more information regarding the Lansing Kewadin Casino project, please visit: http://lansingkewadin.wordpress.com/. 

The City and Tribe have stated that their legal teams have reviewed the proposed plan and found that it is consistent with federal and state legal provisions. In addition, both the City and Tribe have stated that the casino project would create approximately 1,500 permanent jobs, provide local revenue sharing payments to the City and related units of government, and draw increased tourism to the area.

If the project moves forward, the Tribe must file the necessary documentation and applications for an off-reservation gaming expansion with the Department of the Interior. The Secretary of the Interior would then need to take the land in downtown Lansing into trust for the benefit of the tribe after determining that the Tribe would be eligible to open a casino at the location.


On February 7, 2012, Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a joint letter to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and the Tribe stating the Governor’s opposition to the tribal casino that has been proposed for the City .

The state has indicated that the proposed casino could possibly conflict with existing Tribal gaming compacts entered into with Native American Tribes in the state.

The letter concludes by stating that the state “will take whatever steps are necessary to prevent the opening of the proposed casino, and if the City persists in these efforts, it does so at its own risk.”

Recent Poll Findings

On March 16, 2012, the Mellman Group, Inc. concluded its survey analysis of 600 likely 2012 general election voters, which revealed little support for expanded gaming in Michigan. The study was performed for Protect MI Vote, an opposition coalition representing, among other groups, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casino-Hotel.

The poll was released Monday and found 60% of voters are opposed to more casinos, with 34% saying the state is just right with the current number of casinos. It also found that 26% say there are already too many casinos. Only 12% say there should be more casinos in the state.

A majority of voters – 56% - oppose allowing expanded Native American gaming in the state, while 26% were in favor.

The poll surveyed 600 likely voters from January 21-25, 2012. The margin of error is +/-4 percent.

For a copy of the report, please click here.


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