Mi. Atty. Gen Bill Schuette wants Vanderbilt Casino Closed.

Schuette supports closure of casino

January 22, 2011
Michigan’s attorney general has thrown support behind an Indian tribe’s legal bid to have a competing casino closed.

In a U.S. District Court motion filed Wednesday, Attorney General Bill Schuette said the Bay Mills Indian Community’s Vanderbilt casino — not on tribal land and operating without government approval — is costing the state money. By drawing customers away from casinos operating under state compacts, Bay Mills is reducing the payments coming to the state from other tribes, the motion said.

“More important perhaps … (Bay Mills is) violating state and federal anti-gambling laws. … These state laws make it illegal for anyone to frequent an unlawful casino … ,” Schuette wrote. The casino is “enticing the public to violate the law” and is “creating a public nuisance.”

Former Attorney General Mike Cox and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa filed separate lawsuits in December aiming to have the Vanderbilt casino closed. Both lawsuits contend Bay Mills is violating state and federal laws. The Vanderbilt casino is 37 miles away from the Little Traverse Odawa Casino.

Officials have said the Vanderbilt casino is a test for opening a larger facility off tribal land in Port Huron.

Attorney General’s Office aligns itself with LTBB in lawsuit against Bay Mills

January 21, 2011|By Christina Rohn News-Review Staff Writer

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office is aligning itself with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a response with the U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan’s Southern Division, supporting the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indian’s request for a preliminary injunction to close the recently opened casino in Vanderbilt, which is run by the Bay Mills Indian Community.

Both the state and Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians filed lawsuits last month (Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 respectively) against the Bay Mills tribe in U.S. District Court.

The state’s lawsuit indicates that, by conducting class III gaming on a property that is not considered ‘Indian lands,’ Bay Mills is in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, as well as the tribal-state gaming compact, which was signed into law on Aug. 20, 1993, by former Gov. John Engler.

The state further explains that the land on which the Vanderbilt casino is operating on is not trust land — a detail which has been confirmed by the U.S. Department of Interior; nor is the land part of Bay Mills’ Indian reservation.

The Bay Mills Indian Community, which runs the Bay Mills Resort & Casinos out of Brimley, Mich., opened a 38-slot casino in Vanderbilt on Nov. 3, in a newly renovated, 1,200 square-foot building, which had formerly been used as Treetops Resort’s information center, located on Old 27 North, near the Vanderbilt exit ramp along south I-75.

The tribe purchased this facility in August, along with the 45.6 acres surrounding it.

According to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, Schuette indicates in his Jan. 19 response, that the U.S. Department of Interior released an opinion claiming that the (Bay Mills Indian Community) “had, on three separate occasions, sought decisions from (the U.S. Department of Interior) and/or (the National Indian Gaming Commission) that could have authorized operation of (the Vanderbilt) casino … (Bay Mills) withdrew all three of these requests before a final decision was issued by the agencies, presumably because (Bay Mills) had reason to believe the decisions would not be favorable to its cause.”

The Bay Mills Indian Community has asserted that it believes the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1997 entitles their tribe to buy lands with funds appropriated by Congress, as part of a land claim settlement, making those ‘Indian lands.’

Schuette also states, in his response to U.S. District Court, that public interest should be taken into account before the court makes its final decision regarding a preliminary injunction.

He explains that the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, along with other tribes, have compacts with the state, requiring them to make annual economic incentive payments to the Michigan Strategic Fund, which is run by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

According to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians pays six percent of its “net win” (the total amount wagered on each electronic game of chance, minus the total amount paid to players for winning wagers at such machines) annually to the Michigan Strategic Fund.

In 2009, the tribe reportedly paid $2,536,160.32 to the state’s strategic fund.

Bay Mills, on the other hand, has no such agreement with the state.

In the Michigan Attorney General’s response, Schuette goes on to claim the following, “(Bay Mills) … is under no obligation to make payments to the state from any revenues generated by its casinos. Thus, to the extent the Vanderbilt casino is drawing customers away from these other tribal casinos, the state will lose money.”

In addition to the financial ramifications, Schuette also explains that Bay Mills’ newest casino violates state and federal anti-gambling laws, making it illegal for anyone to walk through its doors.

“It is certainly not in the public interest to allow the continued operation of a casino that is essentially enticing the public to violate the law, and is effectively creating a public nuisance,” Schuette states.

In a response, issued Dec. 23, on the Bay Mills Indian Community’s website — http://www.baymills.org — Jeff Parker, chairman of the tribe, says he believes the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indian’s lawsuit is more about business, rather than recognizing Indian law.

“This is the same tribe that worked out a closed-door deal with the state of Michigan to locate a casino in Mackinaw City, which will have a devastating impact on tribes located in Michigan’s upper peninsula,” Parker said. “Bringing suit against us, claiming that we would unfairly impact their gaming market, is a little like the pot calling the kettle black.”

The Vanderbilt casino continues to operate, despite pending litigation.

“We are prepared to protect these newly created jobs, along with our employees’ rights to work in Vanderbilt,” Parker said. “We are prepared to defend our position in court.”

The News-Review contacted Ken Harrington and Dexter McNamara, tribal chair and vice chair for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, for comment on this article. They have not yet returned a response.

Christina Rohn
(231)439-9398 – crohn@petoskeynews.com

~

In essence this is a dispute among Indian Tribes and nothing more. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians is crying foul. But if the part is right claimed by The Bay Mills Indians Community that the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indian’s lawsuit is more about business, rather than recognizing Indian law.

“This is the same tribe that worked out a closed-door deal with the state of Michigan to locate a casino in Mackinaw City, which will have a devastating impact on tribes located in Michigan’s upper peninsula,” Parker said. “Bringing suit against us, claiming that we would unfairly impact their gaming market, is a little like the pot calling the kettle black.”

If this is the truth then Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette should be investigating this as well.  And I have to wonder then what our Attn. Gen. stance will be on The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians who purchased 7 acres of Land at Pinnacle Race Course.

I mean what Indian Tribe will object to Pinnacle? We are a lot of miles away from any Tribunal Casino in Huron Township. I mean at one time the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians could of objected??? OH WAIT A MINUTE…….. That’s Right Greektown was stolen from them. So I guess they won’t be objecting to themselves at the Pinnacle Race Course parcel they purchased.

I don’t know what the outcome will be for Bay Mills Indian Community and Vanderbilt, Mi. or Port Huron in the future. But the closest Tribunal Casino to Pinnacle’s Land is Soaring Eagle in Mt. Pleasant, Mi. 155.1 Miles Away. And I don’t think the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe who owns Soaring Eagle is going to object to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians who want to build a Casino in New Boston/Huron Township, Mi..

Detroit’s 3 Casino’s are Commercially owned.

And in The United States of America’s Constitution it states ALL people have a right to open a Business. There is not a limited number of Restaurants, Bowling Allys, Bars, Supermarkets, Flower shops, Beauty shops, Pet Stores, Tattoo Parlors, etc….. And Detroit does not have sole ownership of the entire Metro/Detroit Tri. Country area in Casinos. Yet thus far they managed to be triumph in this area. Detroit Casinos may be important for Detroit as pointed out by the MGCB Director Richard Kalm. But the rest of the Casinos are good for ALL OF MICHIGAN.

Implementing Slots at the Tracks would boost the States Revenue even more. By Millions upon Millions.

So one Indian Tribe is fighting another 37 miles apart and Mi. Atty. Gen. is siding with one. Well as I stated the closest Tribunal Casino to Huron Township is 155 miles away. So it shouldn’t be a problem then right Atty. Gen.  Bill Schuette?

Say Right.

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Filed under Huron Township Michigan, Michigan Casinos, Michigan News, Michigan Politics, New Boston Michigan, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics, The Michigan Gaming Control Board

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