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Politics & Government

Deadline looms for major gaming compact between the state of Michigan and tribal governments

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A big deadline looms on November 30th that may affect the state’s casino industry.

Since 1993, six Native American tribes (The Bay Mills Indian Community, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Hannahville Indian Community, the Lac Vieux Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa) have had deals in place with the state of Michigan to operate gambling facilities. The tribes operate 13 casinos.

Originally, the tribes were to share a portion of their revenues with the state. The tribes currently pay nothing to the state because that obligation ended with the creation of Detroit casinos and compacts for new tribes.

What happens if the 1993 gaming compacts expire on November 30th is unclear. Some say theoretically, if the gaming compact is allowed to expire, the tribes should not be able to legally operate their casinos. However it’s doubtful the state would attempt to force the casinos to close.

The governor’s office has been talking with tribal leaders for months. One tribal leader has said Governor Snyder wants the tribes to go back paying the state a share of the gaming revenues, but is not offering the tribes anything in return.

A governor’s office spokesman said last week that the talks continue and will continue past next weekend, if necessary. 

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