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."