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Little River Band's buys Great Lakes Downs

July 17, 2008

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians announced Wednesday their purchase of Great Lakes Downs with hopes to build a casino. The horse track was closed last fall after years of losing money.

"The purchase moves the tribe closer to establishing a second casino in Muskegon," said tribe Ogema Larry Romanelli, a Muskegon businessman. The tribe has been interested in building a casino in Muskegon County for a while. They currently own and operate the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee.

"We are pleased to be able to make this investment in western Michigan's economy as it will help bring jobs, businesses and tourism to the area," Romanelli said. "This move is being made by the tribe as a commitment to serve a region that is part of our historic nine-county service area."

The tribe's gaming compact with the state was signed in the late 90s and allow only one casino. However, the tribe's commerce director, Robert Memberto, said language regarding a second site could easily be added to the compact if approved by the U.S. Interior Department.

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