Tribe Loses Court Decision Over Lansing Casino
LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A federal judge suddenly has put the brakes on plans for an American Indian casino in Lansing.
Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids granted Michigan’s request Tuesday for a preliminary injunction against the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, which wants to build a $245 million casino in the capital city.
The injunction means the Sault tribe can’t ask the federal government to put land in trust for the casino. The state says the tribe has failed to reach revenue-sharing agreements with other tribes.
The Sault tribe says it’s not required to share money, and the injunction simply is one step in a long process. In a statement, tribe chairperson Aaron Payment said they’re committed to pursuing their legal right to develop a casino.
“At the end of the day, we expect to prevail because our 1997 federal Land Claim Settlement Act clearly gives us the right, and because of the substantial economic benefits the project will generate for the people of Greater Lansing and the members of our Sault Tribe,” Payment said.
Plans for the 125,000-square-foot casino were announced in January 2012. It would be located adjacent to the Lansing Convention Center, and would offer up to 3,000 slot machines and 48 gambling tables.
Mayor Virg Bernero strongly promoted the plan, which backers say would create jobs and help improve the city. Bernero has said the casino would bring an estimated 2,200 union jobs, as well as generate $5 million to $6 million annually for the “Lansing Promise” – a college scholarship fund for area students.
The plans are opposed by Schuette and Gov. Rick Snyder, as well as some other American Indian tribes with competing casinos. Snyder and Schuette had previously sent a letter to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe, saying the state would take “whatever steps are necessary” to prevent the casino from opening.
Michigan has more than two dozen casinos, most of which are owned and operated by tribes.
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