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Muskegon Casino Project

Nation | Tribe: Little River Band of Ottawa Indians

PROPOSED CASINO IN MUSKEGON COUNTY

LAKESHORE CASINO AND RESORT PLAN

Ellis Road (near I-96 and U.S. 31)
Fruitport Township
Muskegon County, Michigan

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians want to build a $180M casino resort in Muskegon County, Wisconsin. The casino will feature 1,700 slot machines, 35 table games and a 220-room hotel.

The federal government approved the casino in 2021, however, the casino was rejected by Gov. Whtimer on June 2022. A new effort is underway by the federal government get approval from the state.

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Lakeshore Casino And Resort

Lakeshore Casino Resort

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians plan to build a new casino resort on 60 acres in Fruitport Township near the Lakes Mall. The location is near Harvey Street and Hile Road at the former site of the Great Lakes Downs racetrack. The racetrack was closed in 2007 and demolished in 2008. The Little River Band purchased the vacant land a few years afterwards.

The casino will be named Lakeshore Casino and Resort. It will cost $180M to build and feature 1,700 slot machines, 35 table games and a 220-room hotel.

The Lakeshore Casino Resort in Muskegon County will be the second casino owned by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. The tribe also owns Little River Casino in Manistee, Michigan.

History

In February 2015 the tribe filed its application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take the land into federal trust for their proposed casino. This is an initial step in the long process towards full and final approval by the federal, state and local governements.

In October 2020 the Bureau of Indian Affairs published a Final Environmental Impact Statement for public review and comments. After receiving and reviewing the public comments, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs gave federal approval to the casino project last year. See details

State approval was denied by Gov. Whitmer on June 16, 2022. See details. In Oct. 2022 The U.S. Department of Interior asked the Little River Indians to resubmit their casino application in a new effort state approval. See details.

Casino Status

The Muskegon County casino received federal approval for Class II gaming in December 2020. The Little River Band pursued the state for an Indian gaming compact to offer Class III gaming. The request was denied by the governor.

In October 2022 the U.S. Department of Interior asked the Little River Indians to resubmit their application for a Muskegon County casino. The request appears to be a new attempt by the federal government to get state approval for the casino.

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News Headlines

News Dead Muskegon Casino project may be resurrecting October 29, 2022 - The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians may have a new opportunity to build a tribal casino in Muskegon County, MI. The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) has asked the tribe to ... Read more News What's next for Little River Band tribe after Muskegon casino rejection June 21, 2022 - The Little River Band tribe is in shock and disbelief over Gov. Whitmer's rejection of its ten-year effort to build a $180 million casino resort at the former site of the Great Lakes ... Read more News Gov. Whitmer rejects Muskegon County casino project June 17, 2022 - Gov. Whitmer rejected state approval Wednesdah of the proposed plan by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indian tp build a casino resort in in Fruitport Township. Whitmer explained her ... Read more News Muskegon Casino decision depends on federal status of Grand River Bands May 29, 2022 - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has until June 16th to sign off on the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians' plan to build a casino in Muskegon County or let the project die. ... Read more News Muskegon casino decision deadline is extended 6 months December 21, 2021 - The final decision on whether to build an Indian gaming casino in Muskegon County rests with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Her decision was not reached by the 12-month deadline on Dec. 16th ... Read more News Muskegon casino project needs Gov. Whitmer's approval before deadline November 10, 2021 - The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians held a rally Friday to urge Gov. Whitmer to give final approval to the tribe's casino and hotel plans in Muskegon County. ... Read more Headlines continued...

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News Articles

Dead Muskegon Casino project may be resurrecting

October 29, 2022

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians may have a new opportunity to build a tribal casino in Muskegon County, MI. The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) has asked the tribe to resubmit its application for the casino. The DOI had previously approved the Muskegon casino in 2020 and in 2021. The process took twelve years. However, the state approval is required and Gov. Whtimer rejected the casino plan last June.

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Courtesy of , . Available from YouTube

The Governor said her decision was based on potential territorial claims to the casino location from the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians, if that tribe were to receive federal recognition in the near term. The Governor's issue may have been answered by the DOI in a letter this month to the Grand River Indians that extends the timeframe for a preliminary finding on federal recognition into 2023 or beyond.

Fruitport Township Supervisor Todd Dunham said:

"This letter is the decision the Governor said she was waiting on. We now have it. The public supports this project. Every surrounding municipality supports this project. Three presidential administrations and two previous governors have supported it no matter the political party. Everyone knows it would be a huge economic engine for the lakeshore"

- Todd Dunham, Supervisor

The Little River Indians are seeking the Governor's support for their new federal application but have not heard back from her office yet.

The proposed Muskegon casino would cost $180 million and include a 69,000 sq-ft gaming floor with 1,700 slot machines, 35 table games plus restaurants and a 220-room hotel.

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What's next for Little River Band tribe after Muskegon casino rejection

June 21, 2022

The Little River Band tribe is in shock and disbelief over Gov. Whitmer's rejection of its ten-year effort to build a $180 million casino resort at the former site of the Great Lakes Downs racetrack in Muskegon County. The tribe says the project is dead for the foreseeabe future. However, a tribal spokesman said a future attempt might be made if an opportunity arises. The tribe will now reassess its financial future and focus on smaller projects in the near term.

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What's next for Little River Band tribe after Whitmer rejects casino proposa - Courtesy of 13 ON YOUR SIDE, Jun 17, 2022. Available from YouTube

Gov. Whitmer rejected the Muskegon casino plan stating she could not make a responsible decision without knowing the federal government's plans regarding reecognition of the Grand River Band tribe. The governor cited her concern if the Grand River Band, a nearby tribe, would be entitled to similar casino rights if federally recognized.

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Gov. Whitmer rejects Muskegon County casino project

June 17, 2022

Gov. Whitmer rejected state approval Wednesdah of the proposed plan by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indian tp build a casino resort in in Fruitport Township.

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Gov. Whitmer rejects proposed Muskegon County casino project - Courtesy of FOX 17 WXMI, Jun 15, 2022. Available from YouTube

Whitmer explained her decision was based on the pending federal recognition status the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians.

"The Department of the Interior first needs to decide whether they are providing federal recognition to the neighboring Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians. It is critical to have this information before making an informed decision."

- Gov. Whitmer

The Little River Band disagrees.

"The two projects, that being Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians federal recognition, and our project, they're two totally separate projects. One has no bearing on the other. Unfortunately, that's not how the Governor's reading it and it's unfortunate."

- Larry Romanelli, Little River Band Tribal Ogema

The Muskegon County casino project was approved by the federal government in December 2020. Federal approval allows Class II Indian gaming in tha casino. The tribe sought state approval to allow Class III Vegas-style gambling at the casino. The tribe must now decide whether it is economical to proceed with a Class II casino.

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Muskegon Casino decision depends on federal status of Grand River Bands

May 29, 2022

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has until June 16th to sign off on the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians' plan to build a casino in Muskegon County or let the project die. The proposed casino received federal approval in December 2020, and the final approval must now come from the governor.

However, the governor says her decision is complicated by the U.S Interior Department's pending decision to grant federal recognition to the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians. The decision is scheduled to be answered on or before October 20. The Grand River Bands (GRB) oppose the Little River Band's casino plan.

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Gov. Whitmer urges Dept. of Interior to decide on Grand River Bands' federal status - Courtesy of FOX 17 WXMI, May 25, 2022. Available from YouTube

Last Monday Gov. Whitmer wrote Interior Secretary Deb Haaland requesting the department expedite its decision on GRB recognition to no later than June 1, 2022 or extend the governor's deadline regarding the Muskegon casino until after the GRB decision is made.

""My concurrence with the Little River Band's two-part determination could frustrate the Grand River Bands, which may wish to open their own gaming facility on tribal lands not far from Fruitport Township."

- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians has been formally recognized as a tribe by the State of Michigan since 1996.

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Muskegon casino decision deadline is extended 6 months

December 21, 2021

The final decision on whether to build an Indian gaming casino in Muskegon County rests with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Although her decision was not reached by the 12-month deadline on Dec. 16th, the federal government has agreed to a 6-month extension for the decision.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has been working onplans to build a $180 million casino in Fruitport Township for the past twolve years. The casino will be named "Lakeshore Casino Resort" and feature 1,700 slot machines, 35 table games, restaurants and a 220-room hotel.

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ource: Gov. Whitmer will likely request extension on Muskegon County casino project - Courtesy of FOX 17 WXMI, Dec 10, 2021. Available from YouTube

The Muskegon casino project was approved by the federal government last year. The tribe is seeking a gaming compact with the state to authorize Vegas-style, Class III gaming. If approved by the Governor, the Lakeshore Casino Resort will be built on a 60-acre site of the former Great Lakes Downs racetrack.

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Muskegon casino project needs Gov. Whitmer's approval before deadline

November 10, 2021

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians held a rally Friday to urge Gov. Whitmer to give final approval to the tribe's casino and hotel plans in Muskegon County. The governor has a deadline of Dec. 16th to give approval for the casino or else the project will end.

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Tribe to Whitmer: Give final OK to Muskegon-area casino - Courtesy of WOOD TV8, Nov 5, 2021. Available from YouTube

The rally was held at the Muskegon Museum of Art to support the final approval of a 12-year effort to bring a casino to Muskegon County. The event was attended by local lawmakers, tribal leaders, union representatives and county supporters.

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Muskegon casino project "is on the 3-yard line"

May 19, 2021

For the past 12 years the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has sought approval to build a $180 million casino and hotel in Muskegon County. The project has federal approval and state approval is pending.

Tribal Ogema Larry Romanelli told reporters: "Behind the scenes, there's been constant work on this. The tribe has invested a lot of money on this, millions of dollars, and we're now at I'd say the three yard line."

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Finish line in sight for Muskegon County casino project - Courtesy of WOOD TV8, May 17, 2021. Available from YouTube

Construction of the casino can begin soon after sign-off by the governor and confirmation by the legislature. It will take about 2 years to complete the Muskegon casino and hotel.

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Tribe seeks gaming compact with Gov. before building Muskegon casino

March 26, 2021

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is seeking a gaming compact with Gov. Whitmer defining the number and types of casino games allowed for the proposed Lakeshore Casino and Resort project in Muskegon County. The agreement would also define tax revenues and must be approved by the Michigan legislature.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) granted federal approval for building the casino last December. The tribe wants a gaming compact for the Lakeshore Casino project prior to construction.

The $180 million casino will feature a 69,000-square-foot of gaming floor with 1,700 slot machines and 35 table games. The property will also include a 220-room hotel with conference space and meeting rooms.

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Muskegon Casino plan gets federal approval

January 8, 2021

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians received approval last month from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to build a casino in Muskegon County, Michigan. The location is the former Great Lakes Downs in Fruitport Township.

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Effort to secure approval for Muskegon County casino shifting from D.C. to Lansing in 2021 - Courtesy of 13 ON YOUR SIDE, Dec 31, 2020. Available from YouTube

The plan to build a casino in Muskegon County began 12 years and the tribe's application for federal approval began 5 years ago. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is now authorized to build a Class II Indian gaming casino where players win against other players, however the tribe will now seek state approval for Class III gaming with Vegas-style games.

The tribe will now seek a gaming compact with the governor to allow Class III games. If successful, the agreement must be approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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Proposed Lakeshore Casino gets bipartisan support from Muskegon commissioners

November 15, 2020

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is seeking approvals to build a casino hotel on a 60-acre site of the former Great Lakes Downs racetrack in Fruitport Township. The casino will 69,000 square feet and feature 1,700 slot machines and 35 table games. The hotel will offer 220 guest rooms.

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Fruitport Township casino project something Democrats and Republicans in Muskegon County agree on - Courtesy of ABC 13 ON YOUR SIDE, Nov. 10, 2020. Available from YouTube

The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs is finalizings its review and evaluation of the casino project for a final decision by the U.S. Department of Interior.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians own the Little River Casino Resort located near Manistee about 95 miles north of Muskegon.

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Proposed Muskegon casino takes key step towards federal approval

October 24, 2020

In 2015 the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians applied to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for approval to build a new casino near Muskegon, Michigan. If approved, the proposed Lakeshore Casino and Resort will be built on a former racetrack site in Fruitport Township.

Last week the tribe was notified by the BIA that a Final Environmental Impact Statement has been completed and will be published for public review and comments. After a receiving public comments, a federal decision will be made on whether or not to approve the casino project.

If approved, the U.S. Interior Department will transfer the casino land into federal trust for the purpose of giving the tribe sovereignty over the site for the purpose of gambling. The Little River Band would then negotiate a gaming compact with the State of Michigan to define the number and type of casino games and the percentage of revenue to be paid to the state.

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UPDATE on Lakeshore Casino and Resort near Muskegon

March 17, 2019

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Courtesy of ABC13 wzzm13.com


The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians have sought to build a casino in Fruitport Township of Muskegon County. The federal government is currently reviewing their application.

Three Michigan tribes feel threatened by the economic impact of a new casino on their casinos and have fighting to stop construction. These tribes are Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi in Battle Creek, Saginaw Chippewa Indians in Mount Pleasant, and Gun Lake tribes in Wayland Township.

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Tribe moves closer to approval of a casino in Muskegon County

December 08, 2018

A public hearing has been scheduled for the proposed casino that would be built in Fruitport Township.

On Wednesday the hearing will be held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The public is invited to attend.

The proposed casino would be located at the former Great Lakes Downs. It would be owned by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. In 2008 the tribe purchased the property. They want to create a 69,000 square foot casino that would offer 35 table games, and 1,700 slot machines. Plans also include a hotel with 220 guest rooms. The price for the project would be $180 million.

If approved, the casino could open in 2020. 1,200 new jobs would be created by the casino project.

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Plans for Fruitport Township Casino Moves Forward

February 24, 2015

An application was submitted on Monday to the Bureau of Indian Affairs by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. The application is to take land into trust for a future tribal casino.

The property is located in Fruitport Township on 60 acres at the Great Lakes Downs racetrack. The tribe purchased the property in 2008.

The tribe believes that if the proposed casino is developed, it would help fund more tribal services for their people. The project would also help the local economy with the creation of new jobs.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a waiver in 2013 that allowed for a federal review to proceed. The review would analyze the plans for the proposed plan. However, the current compact with the state would need to be changed. The change would need to be approved by both the legislature and the governor.

The casino would be 69,000 square feet. 35 table games and 1,700 slot machines would be operated. There are also plans for a hotel with 220 guest rooms. An entertainment venue and dining. As well as meeting and conference space.

The proposed project would cost $180 million. Muskegon County potentially could have over 1,200 jobs created.

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Little River Band buys land in Fruitport

September 08, 2008

MUSKEGON, MI - Speculation about a new casino grew last week when the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians purchased 93 acres in Fruitport Township less than 10 miles from downtown Muskegon. This follows the tribe's purchase in July of the Great Lakes Downs followed the next day by another purchase of 53 acres across the street from the racetrack.

The new acreage was purchased for $4.074 million. It fronts Sternberg Road and lies southeast of the 53-acre parcel connecting at one corner.

"We are currently going through the steps to explore establishing a casino on the property but are examining a number of development options as well," said tribal Public Affairs Director Glenn Zaring.

The Muskegon Chronicle has reported that tribal officials are talking with Fruitport Township about developing 40-50 acres for a casino and possibly a hotel.

Zaring added, "The actual economic impact would be much larger when you consider our support of local suppliers, contractors and vendors, payroll, services etc. That doesn't even include any development on the property beyond the casino. This could include restaurants, shopping, lodging, etc., all of which would be fee-simple, so they'd be positively contributing to the tax base."

The "fee-simple" reference means the land outside the casino resort area would be held as taxable property instead of tax-exempt tribal land.

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News Headlines Continued

2021

News Muskegon casino project "is on the 3-yard line" May 19, 2021 - For the past 12 years the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has sought approval to build a $180 million casino and hotel in Muskegon County. The project has federal approval and state approval is ... Read more News Tribe seeks gaming compact with Gov. before building Muskegon casino March 26, 2021 - Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is seeking a gaming compact with Gov. Whitmer defining the number and types of casino games allowed for the proposed Lakeshore Casino ... Read more News Muskegon Casino plan gets federal approval January 8, 2021 - The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians received approval last month from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to build a casino in Muskegon County, Michigan. The location is the former Great Lakes Downs ... Read more

2020

News Proposed Lakeshore Casino gets bipartisan support from Muskegon commissioners November 15, 2020 - The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is seeking approvals to build a casino hotel on a 60-acre site of the former Great Lakes Downs racetrack ... Read more News Proposed Muskegon casino takes key step towards federal approval October 24, 2020 - In 2015 the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians applied to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for approval to build a new casino near Muskegon, Michigan. Last week, the ... Read more

2019

News UPDATE on Lakeshore Casino and Resort near Muskegon March 17, 2019 - The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians have sought to build a casino in Fruitport Township of Muskegon County. The federal government is currently reviewing their application ... Read more

2018

News Tribe moves closer to approval of a casino in Muskegon County December 08, 2018 - The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs conducted public hearings on the proposed $180 million Lakeshore Casino and Resort to be built near Muskegon. ... Read more

2015

Feb 24, 2015 - Plans for Fruitport Township Casino Moves Forward

2008

Sep 08, 2008 - Little River Band buys land in Fruitport

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