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Prospects for a casino in downtown Lansing are getting dimmer

Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Lansing’s mayor does not expect long-stalled plans for a casino in downtown Lansing are going to become a reality.

The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced plans in 2012 to build a quarter billion dollar casino next to Lansing’s convention center.   But opposition from other tribes and state officials led the federal government to reject the tribe’s application to take land next to the Lansing Center into trust. 

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor expects the capitol city’s agreement with the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to build the casino will expire at the end of this year.

“I’m always willing to have the conversation with them,” says Schor. “But at this point, it’s moot.  Because the federal government has said no to any casino in Lansing.”

A tribal official says the Sault Ste Marie Tribe is still working to build a casino in Lansing.

“Our tribal Board of Directors remains resolute and fully committed to the project; we are actively engaged in charting a path forward, trying to make sure we are pursuing the right strategy and that we have assembled the resources necessary to carry us to a successful conclusion,” says spokesman John Wernet. “We have no intention of giving up or going away.”

Mayor Schor declined to speculate on the future of the land surrounding the Lansing Center. Though he says other developers may approach the city.

“Not officially, but I’ve had people mention that there are other uses that can be made out of that property,” says Schor.

While the door appears to be closing on the plans for a casino adjacent to Lansing’s convention center, there may still be a chance for a casino in Lansing’s future.

“The Tribe's rights under the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act are not tied to any particular parcel of land,” says Wernet. “If the city were to decide to abandon plans for a casino adjacent to the Lansing Center, the Tribe could certainly look at alternative locations in Lansing or elsewhere.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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