Construction to begin on Michigan casino managed by Station Casinos

Construction on an American Indian casino in Michigan that will be managed by Station Casinos will break ground in two weeks, the tribe building the casino announced this morning.

The project, however, will be built in phases because of the economy.

The $157 million Gun Lake Casino will break ground Sept. 17 on the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians reservation, which is located 20 miles south of Grand Rapids.

The 83,000-square-foot casino, which wll be built in an old factory and warehouse, will open with 1,200 slot machines, 36 table games, a restaurant and a food court.

The project was originally envisioned as a nearly $200 million 192,000-square-foot casino with 2,500 slot machines and 75 table games.

“Given the current economic conditions, it makes sense for us to build this project in phases,” tribal chairman D.K. Sprague said. “This will allow us to bring jobs to our area sooner, and we look forward to planning and developing the next phase as the economy recovers.”

Construction is expected to take 10-to-12 months, down from the original 18-month construction plan.

The tribe announced Aug. 17 that 147 acres was designated a reservation by the Department of Indian Affairs, allowing the casino to move forward after a 10-year legal fight over the designation.

The U.S. Department of Interior put the land into trust in February after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Jan. 21 not to hear an opposition group’s petition to block the casino.

Station Casinos currently manages Thunder Valley for the United Auburn Indian Community in Sacramento, Calif. The casino company receives a fee of 24 percent of the property’s net income through a management contract scheduled to expire in June.

Station Casinos has three other casino management agreements with tribes in California that are in various stages of having land put into trusts so they can develop casinos.

The gaming company, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, received permission from the court in Reno Wednesday to continue paying as much as $483,500 a month for legal services connected to its American Indian developments.

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

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