Ottawa Indians’ Little River Band, has received the necessary federal approvals for its planned Muskegon County casino in West Michigan and is now awaiting state’s approval, reports WOODTV.
The Little River Band bought the old Great Lakes Downs racetrack near Harvey Street and Hile Road with plans for the off-reservation casino to include 1,700 slot machines, 35 table games, and a 220-room hotel, however for the last 12 years, the $180 million project has been stuck in limbo while awaiting federal approval.
The tribal’s elected leader or Ogema Larry Romanelli, said: “I was in my 50s when this project started. I am now in my 70s, so it’s been a long project.”
In a statement in March to Mibiz, tribal officials had said the project would produce $15 million in annual tax revenue for the state and millions for local governments. As well as 1,500 full-time jobs and 1,500 construction and ancillary jobs.
In order for the tribe to be able to open a second Michigan casino, the state needs to approve a new gaming compact. Romanelli said the tribe’s first casino in Manistee did not take this long to be completed but that the project did span for several years.
Romanelli added: “Behind the scenes, there’s been constant work on this. The tribe has invested a lot of money on this, millions of dollars, and we’re now at I’d say the three-yard line.” He also said some design plans are still subject to change due to COVID-19.
Romanelli continued: “It’s really time to move this to the final stages. That means that the governor signs off and the Legislature also needs to sign off, and we really need to get this thing moving. We are in some terms shovel-ready.”
The director of Visit Muskegon Bob Lukens, stated: “I think it will really help because we’ll kind of have two waves of jobs for the casino project. First, the construction and development of the facility itself, and then for the management and operations of the facility.” He also added that opportunities are needed now more than ever due to the pandemic effects.
The tribe says it is confident it will get the necessary approvals soon. Romanelli believes that because of the pandemic it is going to take two years to have the casino up and running.