gaming

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

An Upper Peninsula Indian tribe has taken a major step toward building a casino in Lansing.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Tuesday formally asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to take land surrounding Lansing’s downtown convention center into trust.

The tribe bought the land for a $245 million casino. But before the casino can be built, the federal government must first take the land into trust.

Tribal officials say the Interior Department could act on the request in a few weeks.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week may pave the way for casino gambling in Michigan’s capitol city.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says a $245 million casino project has been “cleared for takeoff” by the high court’s decision in a different casino case.

State officials sued to close an off-reservation casino opened by the Bay Mills tribe. But the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday ruled against the state of Michigan, saying the tribe has sovereign immunity.

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Anti abortion coverage proposal could move forward today

"A proposal to require insurance companies to stop offering abortion coverage as part of basic health insurance plans takes a critical step today. Right to Life advocates want insurance companies to offer abortion coverage only as a separate rider to women. The Board of State Canvassers is expected to certify that the group collected enough signatures to put the proposal before the legislature," Steve Carmody reports.

U.P. tribe and the state in U.S. Supreme Court over off-reservation casino

"An Upper Peninsula Indian tribe will defend itself today before the United States Supreme Court against a lawsuit filed by the state of Michigan. The state is trying to stop the tribe from opening an off-reservation casino in the town of Vanderbilt in northern lower Michigan," Rick Pluta reports.

Group to gather signatures to have wolf hunt next year

"A pro-hunting coalition is launching a campaign to collect petition signatures seeking a possible third statewide vote next November on hunting wolves in Michigan. Their measure would let the Natural Resources Commission name game species, protecting Michigan's new wolf hunt. The state says that hunters had killed 17 wolves in the Upper Peninsula through Sunday morning," the Associated Press reports.

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Governor Snyder supports campaign finance law changes

"Governor Snyder says he tentatively supports some major changes to Michigan’s campaign finance laws. The State Senate acted earlier this month to double the amount individuals can donate to state lawmakers’ campaigns. It would require some additional financial disclosure from those campaigns," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Officials to discuss a development in last years fungal meningitis outbreak

"Victims of last year's fungal meningitis outbreak aren't holding out much hope they'll receive compensation for the deaths and illnesses caused by tainted steroids traced to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. Officials will hold a news conference today to discuss a development in the investigation. Twenty two people from Michigan died in the outbreak," the Associated Press reports.

Gaming compact expires Saturday

"At the end of this week the 1993 gaming compact between the state of Michigan and six native American tribes officially expires. Some say theoretically, if the gaming compact is allowed to expire, the tribes should not be able to legally operate their casinos. However it’s doubtful the state would attempt to force the casinos to close," Steve Carmody reports.

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A big deadline looms on November 30th that may affect the state’s casino industry.

Since 1993, six Native American tribes (The Bay Mills Indian Community, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Hannahville Indian Community, the Lac Vieux Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa) have had deals in place with the state of Michigan to operate gambling facilities. The tribes operate 13 casinos.

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Poker's rise in popularity has helped Michigan's charities and civic groups stay afloat at a time of dwindling donations from elsewhere.

And efforts to rein in a charitable gambling industry that has grown more than 20-fold in a decade are sparking backlash.

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The state of Michigan is trying to negotiate a new agreement with six Native American tribes that could mean a lot of money for the state.

Since 1993, the state of Michigan has had an agreement with the tribes (Saginaw Chippewa, Grand Traverse, Lau Vieux Desert, Sault Ste Marie, Bay Mills and Hannahville) concerning gambling revenues.   That gaming compact is up for its regular review this year.  

Governor Snyder wants to renegotiate the compact.  A spokesman for the governor declined to say what’s being discussed.  

Aaron Payment is the chairman of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, which operates five casinos in the U.P.

Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Backers of a proposed casino in downtown Lansing are asking a federal appeals court to toss out a legal ruling that threatens to bring their plans to a halt. 

Last month a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians’ plans to build a $245 million casino in downtown Lansing.

Michigan’s attorney general sought the injunction claiming the tribe’s plans violated federal law and a state gambling compact.    

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MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) - The Soaring Eagle Casino is planning a new website that won't take bets for money unless Congress changes restrictions on online gambling.

The casino's marketing director Raul Venegas tells the Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant that the website will be for marketing and fun.

Venegas says the casino has "no intentions to offer real money gaming online, but people can play for free."

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The Who's "Pinball Wizard" was an anthem for the baby boom generation who grew up going to arcades where dozens of pinball machines would be lined up.

But, in these days of Xbox and PlayStation 2 there are still young Pinball Wizards.

The Michigan Pinball Expo is coming to Oakland University this week. The expo is a family friendly event which hosts over 125 pinball machines over 15,000 square feet of space. Here's the catch: all of the machines are free to play, so no quarters are required.

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The Upper Peninsula Native American Tribe says a lawsuit trying to prevent it from building a casino in Lansing is “utterly without merit”.

Michigan’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit in September challenging the right of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to build a casino in downtown Lansing.

Attorney General Bill Schuette says the casino project would violate federal law, as well as a gaming compact with the state.

But in its response to the state’s lawsuit this week, the tribe describes the state’s case as “meritless”.

A deadline is looming for a proposed downtown Lansing casino.

The proposed $245 million casino project involves a complicated business and land deal between the city of Lansing, private developers and an indian tribe from the Upper Peninsula. 

So complicated those involved were not able to reach an agreement on the various aspects of the project by an August deadline.   So they gave themselves an extension until November 1st.

But with two weeks before the extended deadline there’s still no final agreement.

Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Michigan’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit to block plans for a casino in Lansing.

The Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced plans in January to build a $245 million casino next to Lansing’s convention center.

Attorney General Bill Schuette claims the casino project violates federal law and a gaming compact with the state.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Plans for a casino in downtown Lansing are taking longer to pull together than developers had originally planned.

Community PlanIt screen shot.

Community meetings about the future of Detroit neighborhoods wrap up this week.

The Detroit Works Project focuses on how to make neighborhoods more viable, and how to keep current residents while attracting new people to the city.

Dan Pitera is co-leader of Civic Engagement for Detroit Works long-term planning. He is also also a professor of architecture at the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Some main concerns from Detroit residents, Pitera said “are safety for everybody, education and health for everybody in the city.”

Detroit Works has used several methods to engage the Detroit community. One of the newest is an online video game called Detroit 24/7. “Some people love to go to meetings, other people don’t,” Pitera said.

So far more than 900 people are playing the game, which lets players describe what they encounter everyday as they move around the city of Detroit, point out the pros and cons, and then suggest strategies that can improve the city. The idea is to engage a younger population, those ages 18 to 35.

“It actually deals with many of the same issues we are dealing with in the community conversations but done online, and we are attracting those people that are not going to meetings.”

According to Pitera, the intention of the project has been to first collect data from city residents, and then create city wide strategies that are informed by what is happening in different neighborhoods.

A majority of Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians members have voted in favor of their tribe building a casino in downtown Lansing.

The vote clears the way for what is sure to be bigger challenges to the casino project.  

Tribal leaders had predicted the outcome of the referendum from the start.    The voting started last month when the tribe mailed ballots to more than 14 thousand tribal members.

In the end, more than 39 hundred Sault Ste Marie tribe members voted in favor of the Lansing casino project.    23 hundred members voted against it.

Roger Martin is the tribe’s spokesman.    He says the next phase of the project will involve paperwork.

“The hope is the have the land purchase completed and the application to take the land into trust by the Department of the Interior by Summer,” says Martin.

The federal government must agree to take the land into trust for the tribe so it can be used for gaming. 

Other tribes that operate casinos near Lansing, as well as Governor Snyder,  oppose a casino in the capital city.  Legal challenges to the project are expected.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero issued a statement thanking the tribe for its affirmative vote.

"I am more convinced than ever that this is the right project at the right time with the right partners.  The Lansing Kewadin casino will create thousands of good jobs, fully-fund college scholarships for Lansing public school children, and generate hundreds of millions in new economic activity for the Lansing region." Bernero said in his statement."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Voting wraps up this week in a referendum that may decide if plans for a casino in downtown Lansing can move forward.

Ballots were mailed to 14 thousand members of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians earlier this month.

The basic question is should the tribe move ahead with plans to build a $245 million casino adjacent to Lansing’s downtown convention center.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Ballots are being mailed this week to more than 14 thousand members of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.   The vote may decide if the tribe will go ahead with plans to build a casino in downtown Lansing.

The proposed casino is controversial, not just among those who generally oppose any effort to expand gambling in Michigan, but also among some Sault Ste Marie tribe members.

The tribe already operates five casinos in the Upper Peninsula.  But some tribe members don’t like the way revenue from a Lansing casino would be divided.

A petition drive is underway that may end with asking Michigan voters if they want more casinos.

The state Board of Canvassers approved the form of the petition today.

If enough signatures are collected, voters this fall will be asked to approve expanding the number of private casinos in Michigan by eight. The expansion is opposed by Michigan’s existing casino owners.

Emily Palsrok is with the Citizens for More Michigan Jobs, the group behind the petition drive.    

“Well we think there’s more room for competition.  We don’t think anyone should be afraid of that," says Palsrok, "The gaming industry in Michigan is doing very well.  If we look at the numbers that just the three Detroit casinos posted…they’re doing very well…there’s room for more competition.” 

There are several other proposals that could eventually double the number of casinos in Michigan.

Supporters of the campaign would have to collect more than 300,000 voter signatures to make a statewide ballot.

Among the locations that would get new casinos through the proposal are Detroit, Pontiac, Grand Rapids and Romulus. Others would be in Birch Run, Macomb County's Clinton Township, Wexford County's Clam Lake Township and DeWitt Township in the Lansing area.

A controversial plan to build a casino in downtown Lansing cleared an important hurdle last night. 

The Lansing city council gave its approval for the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians’ plan to build a casino next to the city’s convention center. 

Council members who voted for the casino cited the jobs it will create  and a college scholarship program for Lansing children it will fund.

The Lansing city council has several items dealing with the casino project on its agenda tonight.

All the items must pass for the $245 million project to move forward.

City council president Brian Jeffries last week questioned if the city is giving up too much in the deal with the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and a group of local investors.

The proposal has drawn opposition from critics of casino gambling., other tribes that operate casinos, as well as the governor and state attorney general. 

(courtesy of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

 A public hearing tonight in Lansing is expected to draw a large crowd of opponents to a casino in in the city’s downtown.

The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a new casino next to Lansing’s downtown convention center.

Supporters say the casino would bring much needed jobs to the capitol city, boost the city’s convention business and provide funding for a college scholarship program for Lansing school children.

But opponents say the costs are too high.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Some Lansing city council members seem inclined to delay a vote on a proposed casino project.

The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a casino next to Lansing’s downtown convention center.

The city council is scheduled to vote on the proposal this month.  But the tribe is scheduling a referendum among its members in 60 days.    That has some council members questioning why they have to vote now. 

Tribal Chairman Joe Eitrem says he’s not worried about a possible delay in the city council’s vote. 

(courtesy of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

 Members of an Upper Peninsula Native American tribe may vote in the next few months on a proposal to build a casino in Lansing.

 The vote could upend the controversial casino project in Michigan’s capitol city.

 The leaders of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced their plans to build a $245 million  casino in downtown Lansing in January.

The proposal immediately drew opposition from the governor, state attorney general and other Native American tribes that already operate casinos within easy driving distance of Lansing.

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New casinos would open in seven Michigan cities, under a measure a group hopes to get onto the ballot in 2012.

Bill Thompson is a casino expert from Las Vegas who helped draft the proposed constitutional amendment, which calls for a 19% wagering tax for the casinos. He says it would raise about $400 million in tax revenues. More than half the money would fund college scholarships and a tourism ad campaign.

Thompson says much of the rest would go to the communities that host the casinos:

"This will bring money into Saginaw, Benton Harbor – two cities that are in desperate financial situations, also Lansing, Grand Rapids – two cities that need help."

The measure also calls for casinos in Mount Clemens, Detroit and Romulus, where Alan Lambert is the mayor:

"There’s so many people out of work. In my own community there’s a lot of people out of work. So to a city like Romulus this means revenue obviously, and it means a lot of jobs."

Detroit’s three existing casinos will likely put on a vigorous fight to block the measure. And since it’s a statewide vote, opponents say it takes away residents’ rights to decide whether they want a casino in their communities.

The group failed to get a similar measure onto the 2010 ballot.

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Macomb County executive Mark Hackel says a privately owned casino could boost business along the county's waterfront on Lake St. Clair.  The Macomb Daily reports: Mark Hackel said he plans to reach out to local communities to see who might be interested.