Indian Casino Announced near Detroit Airport

Specific site, other details still lacking for off-reservation casino


ROMULUS, Mich. -- A specific site and other details have not been announced, but four Michigan Indian tribes said they intend to develop an off-reservation casino in this suburb 25 miles west of Detroit.

"In terms of scope, nature and scale, all that still is in the pre-development stage," John F. Petoskey, general counsel for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, said Monday during a news conference. "If everything goes positive, we're still talking years down the road.

"All we are announcing today is that four tribes, after more than one year of negotiations, have agreed to go forward with the casino project,"

The proposed casino would be built near Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Seven Michigan tribes fall under an agreement signed in 1994 with then-Gov. John Engler that allows them to share ownership and revenue from an off-reservation casino. The U.S. Department of the Interior and the State of Michigan must approve the project.

Indian casino experts say the Interior Department has balked at approving off-reservation casinos for more than 15 years, according to a Detroit News report published Tuesday.

The four tribes that have agreed to pursue the proposed Romulus casino include the Grand Traverse Band and three Upper Peninsula tribes -- the Hannahville Indian Community, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

Three other tribes -- the Bay Mills Indian Community, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians -- have not agreed to participate in the project.

The Michigan Racing Commission in May granted a license to Magna Entertainment Corp. for Michigan Downs, a $100 million thoroughbred horse track in Romulus.

Michigan has 17 Indian casinos.