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Governor of Michigan turns down $180M off- reservations casino

A tribe has been working toward opening an off-reservation casino in West Michigan for more than a decade, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer just turned down their request for an off- reservation casino that would cost $180 million.

The decision by Whitmer to turn down the offer on Wednesday came after the United States Department of the Interior spurned her appeal to extend back the date she needed to decide whether or not to provide permission for the project to move forward.

In a letter that Whitmer sent to the Secretary of the Interior of the United States, Deb Haaland, she complained that the agency had placed her in a “impossible position” noting that she had been denied access to “information critical to my decision.”

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians(native American tribe of Odawa people) had wanted to construct the casino on a piece of land measuring 87 acres that was purchased by the tribe close to Muskegon in the year 2008.

The casino needed permission from both the state and the federal government because the location was not on the tribe’s territory.
December 2020 was the month when the Interior Department finally issued its clearance.

In May, Whitmer requested that the department make a decision by Thursday regarding whether or not a nearby tribe, the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians, would be given federal acceptance or whether or not the state’s deadline for making a decision regarding the casino proposal would be extended.

The Grand River Bands have expressed their disapproval of the planned casino.

“Despite my best efforts to get answers from DOI with respect to the pending Grand River Bands’ acknowledgment petition, I am left without information critical to my decision on the Little River Band’s two-part determination,” Whitmer wrote.

In addition, Whitmer stated that once a verdict had been made about the acceptance petition submitted by Grand River Bands, she would “welcome the opportunity to revisit this question.”

The head of the Little River Band, Larry Romanelli, indicated that his people were extremely saddened by the verdict and that the casino met all the requirements necessary for acceptance.
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