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Politics & Government

Plans for new tribal casinos in Lansing, Romulus hit roadblock

Artist rendering of proposed Lansing casino.
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Artist rendering of proposed Lansing casino.

Plans for new tribal casinos in downtown Lansing and Romulus have hit a roadblock.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has turned down a request from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to take land in Lansing and Romulus into trust. 

Federal officials denied the request because the application failed to show how acquiring this land would “consolidate or enhance” tribal lands. 

“We are deeply disappointed in the U.S. DOI’s decision to deny our mandatory trust land petitions for Lansing and Romulus,” says Aaron Payment, tribal president, “largely because it is based on a flawed legal analysis and because our Land Claims Settlement Act approved by the Congress of the United States in 1997 clearly requires that the applications be approved.”

Payment says the tribe is not giving up.

“The law is clear: The Secretary is required to accept these parcels in trust,” says Payment.

The rejection is a blow to the tribe’s plans to build a $245 million casino next to Lansing’s downtown convention center. 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero continues to support the casino project.

“It is clear that the tribe and the city would derive tremendous benefits from opening a casino in Lansing,” says Bernero. “The revenues generated by such a facility would provide critical resources and services for the tribe and its members, as well as fully funding the Lansing Promise scholarship program that would provide four years of free college tuition to Lansing’s children.”

Other tribes operating casinos in Michigan and state officials have opposed the casino proposal.

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