Group to appeal decision on Michigan tribal casino

A group opposed to gaming plans to appeal a court decision letting an American Indian tribe proceed with plans to build a casino in west Michigan.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., last week upheld a lower federal court ruling from Feb. 23, 2007, dismissing the group’s lawsuit challenging the development.

Michigan Gaming Opposition, commonly known as MichGo, was challenging the location of the project, which would be built with Station Casinos. MichGo wanted the federal government to conduct a full environmental impact study and it challenged the authority of the secretary of the interior to move lands into trust for tribes.

MichGo said it will seek a Supreme Court ruling on the interior secretary’s authority.

The Department of Interior planned to move the land into trust for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, commonly referred to as the Gun Lake Tribe, before lawsuits blocked the move.

Tribal spokesman James Nye said the Supreme Court refused to hear a similar petition challenging a Rhode Island casino earlier this year.

“That makes it less likely the court will hear MichGo’s appeal,” Nye said. “We don’t think it is likely they will be granted a review.”

MichGo President Todd Boorsma did not return a call Friday seeking comment.

The casino is planned for 146 acres in the Wayland Township nearly 25 miles north of Kalamazoo, Mich.

The development would provide nearly 1,800 jobs and provide funding for government services for the Gun Lake Tribe’s nearly 320 members, Nye said.

Station Casinos Chief Development Officer Scott Nielson said the project could get under way soon.

“We’re not sure what MichGo’s going to do with these delay tactics,” Nielson said. “We think we’re not talking in terms of months, not years, in getting these things resolved.”

Construction would take 12 to 16 months to convert a 192,000-square-foot factory and warehouse into a casino with up to 2,500 slot machines, 75 table games, a few restaurants and a buffet.

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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