Tuesday’s press conference will include information about the timeline for the project, cost, employment figures, square footage, as well as new gaming, dining, and entertainment options at the tribe’s Michigan casino. The tribe, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, began preliminary work on the expansion in January.
The press conference announcement precedes yet another hearing in a legal challenge that extended all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and since the first phase of the casino was built in 2009. The Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act, S.1603 (pdf), that confirms that the site the casino was built on is indeed Indian land, is at issue. The constitutionality of the law was upheld by a judge last June. However, David Patchak, who resides within three miles of the casino and has said he wants to be compensated for his apparent troubles, has now taken the case to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the court’s calendar, oral arguments are slated for May 13.
Patchak’s lawsuit was originally filed in the wake of Carcieri v. Salazar. In that U.S. Supreme Court ruling, it was held by the justices that tribes had to have been “under federal jurisdiction” as of 1934 in order for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to acquire land for them. In 1999, the Gun Lake Tribe gained recognition. During the litigation, a different legal question arose and because of that, a decision was never reached on Patchak’s claim. In Salazar v. Patchak, the Supreme Court ruled that even though the land had already been placed in trust by the BIA, Patchak could proceed. But by that time, the Gun Lake Casino had already been opened by the tribe.
Currently, more than 1,600 slot machines, a food court, 33 table games, a 225-seat café are operated by the casino, along with lounges, bars, and live entertainment. A 300-seat multi-station buffet and additional gaming floor square footage are among the additions to the facility. More than 800 people are employed by the casino, which has contributed in excess of $80 million to the community. With the expansion, those figures can be expected to grow. The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017, according to the Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority Board.