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U.S. Supreme Court ruling may pave the way for Lansing casino

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week may pave the way for casino gambling in Michigan’s capitol city.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says a $245 million casino project has been “cleared for takeoff” by the high court’s decision in a different casino case.

State officials sued to close an off-reservation casino opened by the Bay Mills tribe. But the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday ruled against the state of Michigan, saying the tribe has sovereign immunity.

State officials are trying a similar legal strategy against the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians who announced plans in 2012 to build a Lansing casino.

But Bernero says this week’s ruling “strikes down a major legal obstacle” to a capitol city casino.   Casino supporters claim it will generate more than 2,000 permanent and construction jobs.   Bernero says a casino would make Lansing more competitive in attracting conventions. 

However, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette reads the U.S. Supreme Court decision differently. He says it gives the state the ability to file suit, even criminal charges, against tribal leaders who try to set up ‘illegal’ casinos.

So, the future of the capitol city casino remains unclear.

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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