The Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC) recently confirmed that it has not received a $7 million payment from the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) which was due in June 2015. The tribe has an agreement with MEDC to make semi-annual payments based on the gambling revenue generated by its Gun Lake Casino which is situated south of Grand Rapids.
The tribe opened the casino back in 2011 and has made an agreement with the MEDC to remit semi-annual gambling revenue, the first six months of the year amounted to $7 million expected in June. MEDC receives on average around $60 million in gambling revenue from tribal casinos and the loss of $7 million from the Gun Lake Tribe in the first half of the year will have a significant impact on MEDC overall revenue. Annual payments from the tribe account for nearly 25% of MEDC’s annual tribal casino revenue.
The tribe decided not to pay MEDC because they were not happy over the fact that the state started offering online games and selling lottery tickets. Back in 2014, Michigan decided that it would be in the best interests of the state to offer an iLottery that was expected to generate around $480 million within a span of 8 years and the state government wanted to use those funds to further public education.
The tribe denies that they broken an agreement by not making its semi-annual payment. In a statement, a tribal representative said “Clearly, when the tribe and the state negotiated our gaming compact we discussed Internet lottery. Both parties agreed that if the state introduced Internet lottery sales or expanded other forms of electronic gaming to social clubs within the tribe’s market area that the tribe would not have to make state revenue sharing payments.”
MEDC has expressed their disappointment over the fact that the tribe has withheld the $7 million and MEDC chief executive officer Steve Arwood stated that the organization would be forced to make job cuts in order to cope with the lack of funds. MEDC currently employs around 300 people.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has already met with tribal officials from the Gun Lake casino in an effort to address concerns and find a mutual solution that is beneficial to all. The governor stated that the meeting was productive and he hoped that the state and the tribal officials could reach an agreement at the earliest.