Casino Stalker | Land Acquisitions

Sault Tribe claims win on long-delayed off-reservation casino bid




Artist's rendering of the proposed Kewadin Lansing Casino in Lansing, Michigan. Image: Sault Tribe

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is claiming progress on a long-delayed off-reservation gaming project in Michigan.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has yet to make a decision on the tribe's land-into-trust application for a casino in Lansing. But a letter issued on the last full day of the Obama administration paves the way for its approval under the provisions of the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act.

"Our tribe is within federal law and our legal rights to pursue these opportunities to create thousands of new jobs and generate millions of dollars in new revenues that will benefit our members, the people of Lansing, public school students in Lansing, the people of Huron Township, and the entire state," Chairman Aaron Payment said in a press release on Tuesday.

The tribe purchased the casino site with funds set aside by the land claim settlement. The law requires such properties to be placed in trust in what is known as a "mandatory" acquisition.

The BIA, however, said the tribe needed to submit more evidence to prove that it meets the conditions of the law. That leaves the matter in the hands of the administration of Republican President Donald Trump, who hasn't indicated how he will handle off-reservation gaming matters.

"For Indian Country, one of the biggest mysteries is how the new Trump administration will deal with Indian tribes and reservations," attorneys Ryan A. Smith and Michael P. Smith wrote in an opinion on Indianz.Com.

Generally, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act bars casinos on land placed in trust after 1988. But Section 20 of the law contains an exception that benefits tribes with land claim settlements.

The provision has been used sparingly since 1988. Only the Tohono O'odham Nation and the Wyandotte Nation have successfully opened gaming facilities in connection with a land claim settlement. Both tribes had to overcome numerous legal, regulatory and political hurdles.

Read More on the Story:
Lansing casino project gets pre-Trump federal response (The Lansing State Journal 1/25)
Goverment will wait for tribe to prove land for Lansing casino meets requirements (WILX 1/24)

Also Today:
Ryan Smith and Mike Smith: Off-reservation gaming in the Trump era (Indianz.Com 1/25)

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