While Mackinaw City’s first casino was approved in June and is expected to be completed sometime in May on sovereign land of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, the Mackinaw City Village Council’s rejection vote in October means that the facility will be limited to less lucrative Class II gaming, according to a report at MLive.
The October 16 vote was the second such vote in more than a decade by the local village council, which denied a 2003 tribal application to build a casino north of the new site. While the council’s approval is needed for Class III gaming, which would have allowed table games such as craps, blackjack and roulette, approval is not required for the lesser license.
The Class II license allows for games like pull tabs, slot machines that are operated on a bingo format, and non-banked card games such as poker. Had the council approved a Class III facility, the local government would have collected 2 percent of slot revenues with the state collecting 6 percent in lieu of property taxes. Gaming revenue is not required to be shared by the tribe with a Class II facility.
The casino can apply for a Class III license in the future.
The village of Mackinaw City, approximately one mile south of the new casino’s location, is at the northernmost tip of Michigan‘s Lower Peninsula in both Cheboygan and Emmet counties, and where visitors can be ferried to the state’s iconic Mackinac Island, which sees almost 1 million tourists each year, according to Travelling Assassin.
Construction on the 5,000-square-foot facility began last week at the site of the former Thunder Falls Water Park, which is located adjacent to tribal trust lands on the city’s south side. In October 2012 the eight-year-old park closed. The new casino is a satellite of sorts to the tribe’s existing Odawa Casino in Petoskey, which is less than 50 miles away. A 130-room hotel at the Petoskey site is included in the tribe’s 5-year economic development plan. Also included in the plans is the addition of an RV park to be added the Mackinaw City site in 2017. A 2007 ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court allows the Odawa tribe’s operation of a second casino in Emmet County under a newly negotiated gaming compact.
The casino will be similar to Madison, Wisconsin’s Class II DeJope-Ho-Chunk casino. While some members of the local community believe the new casino will increase business in the small town, several of the village leaders are not convinced it will create more jobs for residents or help the local economy, according to local media.
Editors Note: Read an article by MLive Media Group business reporter Shandra Martinez to get the full story and see photos as well as artist renderings and maps related to the project.