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House Committee Approves Bills for Romulus & Port Huron Casinos

February 15, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC - The House Natural Resources Committee approved legislation this week which advances plans for new Indian casinos in Romulus and Port Huron. The bill provides land in Port Huron to the Bay Mills Tribe and land in Romulus to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe. In exchange the tribes give up their land claims to 110 acres around Charlotte Beach in the eastern Upper Peninsula. The land dispute goes back to 1855.

The original settlements were made by former Republican Gov. John Engler in 2002 and later endorsed by his successor, Jennifer Granholm. Support and opposition has been mainly divided by geography.

Promoters of the bills include Democrats John Dingell of Dearborn, Bart Stupak of Menominee, and Republican Candice Miller of Macomb County's Harrison Township. Both Michigan senators, Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, support the Port Huron casino. Levin has not taken a public position on the Romulus casino.

However, casino interests in Detroit have vigorously opposed the agreement. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick believes it will hurt casinos in his city. He is joined by the MGM Detroit and the Saginaw Chippewa, who own Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant.

However, the officials of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians believe the market is large enough to support both their Greektown casino and a new casino in Romulus.

The legislation can now go to the House floor for a vote. If passed, it will go to the Senate where Majority Leader Harry Reid has already voiced his opposition.

Return to Michigan Casinos.


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