The Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, Michigan has announced a $76 million expansion plan that is expected to nearly double its size. Ed Pigeon, vice chairman of the Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority Board said in a news release on January 7, 2016, "We are thrilled to announce the addition of more gaming, entertainment and dining options here at Gun Lake Casino". The Gun Lake Casino, which has been around for five years now, is owned by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians and is operated by the Tribe’s management partner, MPM Enterprises, LLC, whose owners include an affiliate of Station Casinos, Inc. and other Michigan-based private investors.
Expansion Plans of the Gun Lake Casino
The expanded casino, which is expected to open in the summer of 2017, will have added 73,000 square feet to the 83,000 square foot facility currently in existence. The enlarged casino will have several new features, such as a new buffet restaurant, a gaming room exclusively for high-stakes players, and a new Stage 131 entertainment lounge with a big enough seating capacity (twice its current size) to attract regional entertainers, along with the best local musicians. The buffet restaurant will be able to seat 300 patrons, and will offer upscale dining choices at its multi-station buffet with American, Italian, Mexican, and Asian cuisines. The Gun Lake Casino will also have 450 new slot machines, in addition to the 1,600 slot machines it currently has, and a total of 42 table games. The construction manager hired for the project is Clark Construction. Preliminary site work has already been completed this past winter, and construction crews have started demolition work, as well as footings and foundations for the building expansion.
Economic Benefits of the Expansion of the Gun Lake Casino
The Gun Lake Casino already employs about 800 people. The expanded casino is likely to require at least 100 new employees, along with 300 to 400 temporary new jobs. The casino’s employees will also benefit from the expansion, with the addition of a new dining room and lounge. The lounge area will have a break room, café, and personal lockers. The expansion of the Gun Lake Casino is likely to attract more visitors and add to gaming revenues for the government. "The addition of more gaming space, premiere buffet dining, and headline entertainers puts our property on par with any in the Midwest," said John Shagonaby, CEO of the Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority.
Casino Industry in Michigan, and Michigan’s Tribes
The Michigan Gaming Control Board oversees the three casinos in Detroit. While it has no direct authority over the 24 state tribal casinos, it oversees the compact between the state of Michigan and the Native American tribes operating these tribal casinos. As per the information on the michigan.gov website, Michigan is home to twelve federally-acknowledged Indian tribes that enjoy a special status under federal law and treaties. Native American tribes that are federally acknowledged are not just organizations of the citizens who happen to be of Native American descent. In fact, they are sovereign governments that exercise direct jurisdiction over their members and territory and, under some circumstances, over other citizens as well. Tribal governments provide a wide variety of governmental services to their members, such as a body of laws, legal systems, tribal police, health and education services, and many others. The tribes also manage the casinos within their jurisdiction. While the Detroit casinos pay regular tax revenues to the government, the Tribal-State compacts provide for 2% of net tribal revenues to be paid as revenues to the local government.