The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 22, 2007

High Court ruling advances Indian casinos

By The Building Tradesman

(From Michigan Construction

A Michigan Supreme Court ruling tossing out a challenge by TOMAC ("Taxpayers Of Michigan Against Casinos") will allow the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo Township to open in August, as scheduled. It's also seen as a decision that will aid other Native American owned casino projects in the state.

Ground was broken a year ago by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians for the estimated $400 million casino and resort.

The casino facilities are rising on a 51-acre portion of a 675-acre site located north of M-239 and east of I-94 at Exit 1. Included is to be 130,000 square-feet of gaming space, six restaurants, and three bars. There are also to be 164 hotel rooms, including 98 suites; meeting rooms; an exercise facility; outdoor spa; and childcare facility and arcade.

TOMAC had argued Michigan's process for ratifying compacts signed between the Native American tribes and the governor to be improper. It also claimed the governor could not amend them without additional ratification by the state legislature. The high court disagreed, by a 5-2 decision issued June 1.

In addition to the Pokagons, the decision let stand casino gaming compacts with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi.

Though it must overcome another legal challenge, the Huron Band hopes to break ground late this summer on its $120 million Firekeepers Casino near Battle Creek. It would rise on a 78-acre site in Calhoun County's Emmett Township.