Michigan Governor Given 6 More Months to Announce Decision on Proposed Muskegon County Casino Project

The fate of the casino that was proposed by the Little Band of Ottawa Indians for Muskegon County remains unknown, at least for the next half year.

The project, which has taken 12 years for the tribe to develop and perfect, is still in the air as Governor Gretchen Whitmer received a 6-month extension to make a final decision on the proposal and either approve it or reject it.

As CasinoGamesPro reported earlier this week, the deadline for the Governor’s final say on the $180-million casino project was December 16th. Larry Romanelli, the Chief of the Little Band of Ottawa Indians, explained that the delay of Governor Whitmer’s decision was not that unexpected, considering the fact that she is currently dealing with the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Romanelli said that he understood the reasoning for the delay, although six more months seemed like a long time, considering that that tribe had been preparing the casino project for 12 long years.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is willing to establish a casino situated on 149,000 square feet, as well as a 220-room hotel on 60 acres of land at the site of what once used to be the Great Lakes Downs horse racetrack. As the site is not within the tribe’s reservation land in Manistee County, the casino project requires the approval of the federal and state authorities in order to move forward.

US Department of Interior Gave the Nod to the Casino in Muskegon County

The Native American tribe received the approval of the US Department of Interior on December 16th, 2020, with the agency estimating that the project would be in the best interest of the tribe and would not have any harmful effect on the local community. After that, Governor Whitmer was given one year to assess the project and rule either in favor or against it.

The Governor’s press secretary Bobby Leddy explained in an email to a local media hub that Ms. Whitmer’s administration was still reviewing the proposal.

The proposed construction of a casino and hotel resort has been supported by Muskegon-originating state legislators, local leaders and businesses. According to the proponents of the project, the proposed casino construction will bring further investment into Muskegon County, not to mention the fact that it will create more jobs for local people and will eventually end up generating additional revenue for the County.

According to the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, about 1,500 jobs will be created during the construction of the casino resort, and a further 1,500 jobs set to be established as full-time positions once the project is up and ready to start running. Preliminary estimates say that it would bring about 2 million visitors to the region on an annual basis.

Federal officials have shared that the casino is expected to generate revenue of a little over $180 million over its first year of operation, with the sum set to increase to $206 million by year 5. It would also account for $15 million in annual tax for the state and a further $3-million tax for six local governments. Another $53 million are set to be donated for various government programs and services.