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Tribal gaming authority ordered to pay investors nearly $89 million in failed casino deal

U.S. Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
Kewadin Casinos Gaming Authority ordered to pay former investors $88.9 million in failed casino construction deal

Kewadin Casinos Gaming Authority was dealt a losing hand in court Thursday in a nearly ten-year dispute with former investors.

The authority, which operates under the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, was ordered by an Ingham County Circuit Court judge to pay the investors group nearly $89 million.

Attorney Dennis Ibold, a member of the investors group, said they filed the lawsuit after a deal with the gaming authority to build new casinos in metro Detroit and Lansing fell apart. Ibold said that was a result of the tribe failing to submit documents that were required by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

"The judge's ruling is exactly what we've been telling the tribe — and their attorneys, and their officials — is going to happen," Ibold said. "If there's a process for making an application and you have to do X, Y, and Z, and you choose to do only X and Y, and not Z, do you think the reviewing authority is going to approve your application? No."

The judge in the case ordered the gaming authority to pay the investors group $88.88 million — an amount that he said included the original $8.8 million investment, plus the profits the group would have made once the casinos were up and running.

Ibold said the gaming authority has appealed a number of adverse decisions in the long-running lawsuit in the past, losing all of them, and he fully expects an appeal this time around as well.

An attorney for the Gaming Authority declined to comment.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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