MUSKEGON – Since local voters approved a downtown casino in 1993, there have
been many reports of potential casinos. Currently the Muskegon mayor and city
commissioners are discussing the opportunity with three parties:
The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewas are proposing to open a
new casino in the former SPX Corp headquarters on the waterfront of Muskegon
Lake. The SPX building has been available for lease or sale since mid-2005. It
is four stories tall with 70,700 square feet.
The Lac Vieux Desert Indians (pronounced “lock vee-da-sair”) would spend $10
million to renovate the property and install 1,500 slot machines and 8 blackjack
tables. There would be limited food service but no other amenities.
The Lac Vieux Desert Indians are based in the western Upper Peninsula town of
Watersmeet, MI. They have not yet submitted an application with the federal
government to show they owned land in the Muskegon area prior to the signing of
the Indian Gaming Regulatory Control Act in Oct. 17, 1988. Federal approval is
essential and the review and approval process takes 2-3 years.
The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians based in Manistee is interested in
expanding its gaming operation to Muskegon. They currently operate a casino in
Ogema Larry Romanelli, the recently elected chief of the Little River Band of
Ottawa Indians, said they are in a much better position to open a Muskegon
casino than the Lac Vieux Desert Band.
"We as a tribe have talked to the locals in Muskegon," said Romanelli, a
building contractor who has residences in both Manistee and Fruitport.
"We look for other economic developments and work with local communities,"
Romanelli said. "We want to move Muskegon forward and be a part of what is
happening down there."
The Archimedes Group LLC in Muskegon has previously announced its interest in
a downtown casino through a development agreement with the Grand River Band of
Ottawa Indians based in Grand Rapids. The Grand River Band is not recognized by
the federal government and must gain formal recognition before beginning the
casino approval process.
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