MUSKEGON, MI – Nothing seems more uncertain and puzzling than the process of securing an Indian casino in Muskegon County.
And the fact that there are two parallel and independent efforts to put Indian casinos in separate locations in Muskegon County just adds to the confusion.
RELATED: ‘Active consideration’ of Grand River tribal recognition raises possibility of downtown Muskegon casino
As the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians work for recognition that could eventually lead to a downtown Muskegon casino, the Manistee-based Little River Band of Ottawa Indians works to secure a casino in Fruitport Township.
Here are the basic outlines of the two Indian casino efforts in Muskegon County.
Project: Fruitport Township Indian casino.
Tribe: The Manistee-based Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, which already operates the Little River Casino just north of Manistee.
Location: U.S. 31 and I-96 on the site of the former Great Lakes Downs horse-racing track.
Development plan: The Little River Band has outlined a $100 million plan for a casino and hotel on the former racetrack. The tribe has already purchased the track property in 2008 along with 233 acres along I-96 for additional development that is expected to be generated by the casino.
Most recent action: Gov. Rick Snyder sent on the Little River request for a second casino site to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to begin the process of determining if such a casino will be allowed. Snyder has not endorsed the Little River plans and has opposed expansion of gambling in Michigan but has allowed the issue to be forwarded to federal officials.
What else needs to happen: The Bureau of Indian Affairs needs to authorize the second, off-reservation location for a Little River Band casino in Fruitport Township. The state of Michigan through the governor and the Michigan Legislature would need to approve a casino compact with the tribe.