gaming

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.

Triin Q / wikipedia commons

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.

(flickr blueeyes)

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.

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