Tribal casino proposal hits close to home

The Detroit Free Press reports the Upper Peninsula-based Hannahville Indian Community has resubmitted an application to build a $300 million casino in Romulus, including a 200-room hotel and retail space.

The city of Romulus is about five miles from Pinnacle Race Course in New Boston. Pinnacle, along with the state’s four other pari-mutuel racetracks are working toward obtaining their own casinos through a 2010 ballot issue.

This news also comes on the heels of the recent announcement that Michigan may cease live and simulcast horse racing indefinitely on Nov. 5 following cuts to the Office of Racing Commissioner.

The Free Press reports the Hannahville tribe’s application to the U.S. Department of the Interior was rejected last year, but Chairman Ken Meshigaud told the paper he feels “more confident than ever” that the project will get the go-ahead this time around. The group has been eyeing a casino in Romulus since 2004.

The tribe also operates the Chip-In Island Resort and Casino, located west of Escanaba in the state’s Upper Peninsula.

One key factor standing in the way of this development is the small fact that there isn’t any tribal land for miles around Romulus. According to the Free Press, the tribe plans to get around this by “asking the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to place a portion of a 27-acre site at Vining and Wick into trust — allowing tribal members to own the land and use it for gaming, as a sort of extension of their 5,500-acre reservation near Escanaba.”

In a similar case, the Manistee-based Little River Band of Ottawa Indians purchased the site of former Thoroughbred track Great Lakes Downs in 2008 with the intention of developing a casino. The property is about 75 miles from the tribe’s reservation and far from any other Native American land. The area has been cleared, but its status in regards to building a casino remains in limbo.

A tip of the hat goes out to to Twitter user @ThoroFan for sniffing out this story.

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2 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Great Lakes Downs, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

2 responses to “Tribal casino proposal hits close to home

  1. ragman

    If…The Native Americans get the go ahead in Romulus, the tracks get the go ahead via the ballot and Toledo gets a casino via the ballot next month(it’s leading by a decent margin) then Pinnacle would have slots and be in competition with 5 casinos and 2 racetracks within a 50 mile radius who would offer the same or more. Whether Raceway Park in Toledo ever gets slots seems like a mute point right now.

    As it appears right now the Michigan racetracks are going to lose two of their better simulcast days if they have to close before the Breeders Cup. Once again Lansing is ready to give Windsor Raceway a boost.

    On a lighter note, Hawthorne today is off the turf and Mi-bred Bishop Casey may have lucked out in the 9th race. Most of the competition comes from horses who do well on the grass. BC looked pretty impressive in his last at Pinnacle rallying from way back and may have a decent shot at a price.

  2. mibredclaimer

    The saturation of casinos in the Detroit area is definitely a concern. The obvious answer for Pinnacle is to build the best casino, but clearly that’s something we’ll have to see to believe. Even then, the best casino isn’t always the one people go to. The proximity to the airport doesn’t hurt their cause though.

    On a related note, speculation in the past hasn’t given the tribe much of a chance of getting the Romulus deal done, and just about every story I have read on the subject notes that Gov. Granholm has historically opposed tribal casinos off-reservation.

    I didn’t even think about the Breeders’ Cup, but that is an awful lot of money to turn down. I wonder if that was considered when the deadline was set?

    Oh, and nice call on Bishop Casey. I’m a little surprised he went off at such a low price, but a cashed ticket is a cashed ticket.

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