The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians will have a ribbon cutting ceremony for its newly constructed Odawa Casino Mackinaw on Wednesday, May 25, only a week shy of the target date set in January. Following the ceremony, at noon, the Class II casino will open its doors to the public, according to the St. Ignace News.

Construction on the 5,000-square-foot facility began in January 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 Mackinaw City, Michigan. The new casino is a satellite of sorts to the tribe’s existing Odawa Casino in Petoskey, which is less than 50 miles away. It is Mackinaw City’s first casino.

About 20 people will be employed at the new casino once it opens. The first choice for jobs at the new facility was given to the current staff of the Odawa Casino who wanted to transfer to Mackinaw City. The hope of the tribe is that the new casino compliments the village and its existing attractions by giving people an incentive to visit Mackinaw City. The location of the casino is within close proximity of Interstate 75, which is the busiest in the state and sees a steady flow of traffic from the Upper Peninsula as well as Lower Michigan, which should bode well for the facility.

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. The tribe requested the more lucrative Class III casino license in October but was denied by the Mackinaw City Village Council. 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.

An adjoining recreational vehicle park is planned for construction in 2017 and Eric McLester, the Odawa casino general manager, has said that if the casino is successful the tribe will consider expanding it in 2018. The Odawa Casino Mackinaw will be open daily from 12pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 12pm to 12am on weekends.

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