Governor Gretchen Whitmer has only a couple of days left until the deadline for her to decide whether to approve or deny the Muskegon County casino proposal. However, according to reports, the deadline could be delayed by up to a further 6 months.
As explained by the Chief of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Larry Romanelli, the tribe is expecting the deadline to be pushed back and is currently awaiting formal notification from the Governor’s Office. Mr. Romanelli also shared that the Native American nation had been working hard over the last 12 years in order to make sure the tribe would get the necessary approval from the US Department of the Interior.
The tribe further noted that it has been discussing the casino proposal with the Governor’s Office. The project was originally presented to Governor Whitmer on December 16th, 2020.
Mr. Romanelli also blamed the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and the negative effects of the Covid-19 crisis for making the Governor’ Office staff busier over the period and said they would probably need some more time to make a decision on the proposal that involves a casino resort, featuring a 70,000-square-foot gaming floor and a 200-room hotel, which is set to be situated on a former horse racing track in close proximity to Muskegon.
Casino Project Needed the Approval of the Federal Government and Michigan Governor
The Muskegon County casino project has been promoted as a fresh economic opportunity for the area that will bring jobs to the region and will help it expand its tourism sector.
According to Bob Lukens, the Community Development Director of Muskegon County, the quicker everyone learned about the decision, the quicker they would be able to start the construction of the project.
A spokesperson for Governor Whitmer confirmed that the proposed casino project is still under review.
For the time being, it remains unclear whether the Governor will sign off on the proposal or not. Despite the strong support received by the Muskegon County casino project, the proposal faced some opposition from some other Indian tribes and ambling companies that operate casino venues. Certain officials from the area of Detroit have also voiced their opposition to the project.
As previously reported by CasinoGamesPro, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is willing to establish a $180-million casino resort on off-reservation land in close proximity to Muskegon. In order to be allowed to establish a casino there, the tribe participated in a lengthy process known as a two-part determination, which means it required approval from both the Federal Government and the Governor of Michigan.
Although the tribal land of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians where a casino could be placed without further issues is situated only 92 miles away, almost half of the tribe’s members (about 42%) live in the Muskegon area. This has been used by the Native American nation as one of the main reasons to justify its willingness to establish the proposed casino on this exact piece of land.
The project received the approval of the US Department of the Interior on December 16th, 2020. Then, the proposal was handed to Governor Whitmer for further approval that is absolutely necessary to bring the casino project to life.