New Indian casino has problem: Gambling’s illegal

St. Ignace, Michigan – Gambling is the only thing missing from a new Indian casino in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, mistakenly built in an area where gambling is illegal.

The USD 36 million Kewadin Shores Casino and Hotel opened in June and has restaurants, a lounge and an indoor pool, overlooking Lake Huron’s Horseshoe Bay north of the Mackinac Bridge.

But its 29,000-square-foot casino with 800 slot machines and 26 gambling tables has been unable to operate because the U.S. government says part of the casino was built on land where Indian gambling is not allowed.

Members of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians are debating who was responsible for the mistake, with the tribe’s current and former chairmen blaming each other, The Detroit News reported Wednesday.

The tribe now is quickly building a USD 2.5 million replacement casino at the site in Mackinac County’s Forest Township, north of St. Ignace.

„It wasn’t until after we had the pilings and foundation in place that we realized that something wasn’t right,“ current Chairman Aaron Payment said. „We did another survey and found that all but 30 feet of the casino was on ineligible land.“

„Payment knew about the problem before I left office and has had 2 1/2 years to work it out,“ former Chairman Bernard Bouschor said. „It wasn’t me. It was a nice try by him to blame me, but I don’t accept any responsibility for his screw-up.“

There are 17 Indian casinos in northern Michigan, and two are to open in the next two years in southern Michigan. The state’s Indian casinos took in USD 983 million in 2005.