SCOTUSBlog Preview of Salazar/Gun Lake Band v. Patchak Argument


An excerpt:

One might think that this is not the stuff of an historic oral argument.  But this will be the thirty-first oral argument before the Court for Patricia Millett, who represents the Tribe, which will make her the woman with the most Supreme Court oral arguments in history.

Congrats to Pattie!!!!

Grand Rapids Press Coverage of Gun Lake Supreme Court Case

Here. An excerpt:

WAYLAND TOWNSHIP — The Supreme Court will decide next year whether the federal government properly took land into trust for the Gun Lake Tribe to build a casino, in a case that experts say reaches far beyond the borders of Allegan County.

On Monday, the court agreed to hearformer Wayland Township trustee David Patchak’s reinstated lawsuit against the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi and the federal Interior Department, a case which could force the Gun Lake Casino to shut its doors.

The casino, which employs about 900 people, opened in February and has since paid out $10.4 million in state and local revenue sharing while raking in about $104 million in net profits on electronic games after payouts in less than a year of operation.

“This is an incredibly high-stakes case,” said Matthew Fletcher, a law professor at Michigan State University who specializes in Indian gaming law. “This casino is generating a lot of revenue — a lot more than they thought they would.”

But the Supreme Court, which accepts only about 3 to 4 percent of cases for which they’re petitioned each year, would not be scheduling arguments if the lawsuit were simply about jobs, profits and revenue sharing for municipalities, although that helps, said Fletcher.

Rather, the Roberts Court justices are likely hoping to clear-up a gray-area in the law that governs decisions by the Department of Interior about taking land in trust on behalf of Indian tribes; a wrinkle that bodes well for the tribe and the government, he said.

The Supreme Court typically reverses about 70 to 75 percent of cases they hear, Fletcher said. “They usually agree to hear a case when they think a lower court is wrong.”

Gun Lake Band Revenue Sharing News Coverage

Here, from Indianz.

Left to Right: Lindsay Vogelsberg (Rep. Bob Genetski’s Office on behalf of State of Michigan); Punkin Shananaquet (Tribal Council); D.K. Sprague (Tribal Chairman); Mark DeYoung (Chairman, Allegan County Board of Commissioners); Norm Taylor (Superintendent Wayland Union Schools); Phyllis Davis (Tribal Council); Linden Anderson (Local Revenue Sharing Board). Photo courtesy Gun Lake Tribe.

Gun Lake Casino Revenue Sharing News

From the Grand Rapids Press:

WAYLAND TOWNSHIP — Local and state officials today are seeing their first big revenue-sharing payout from the opening of the Gun Lake Casino.

Casino officials today were to announce a payment of $515,871 for local governments and $2.1 million for the state from February and March, the first two months of operation.

“Many years ago, we made a commitment to our neighbors to provide funds to help build a better community,” Gun Lake Tribe Chairman D.K. Sprague said. “Today, we have followed through on our commitment, and that marks another important milestone in our shared progress.”

Gun Lake Band Casino Posts 700 Jobs

News article here, via Pechanga.

From the article:

Some of the jobs available at

  • Accounting Clerk
  • Beverage Server Beverage
  • Cage Asst Shift Supervisor
  • Casino Marketing Coordinator
  • Credit Clerk Accounting
  • Gift Shop Supervisor Gift Shop
  • Rewards Center Supervisor
  • Executive Chef Coffee Shop
  • Senior Engineer Maintenance
  • Slot Marketing Coordinator
  • Valet
  • Table Games Director

Gun Lake Casino Construction Update

From the Grand Rapids Press, via Pechanga:

WAYLAND TOWNSHIP — The Gun Lake Casino is back on track through a $165 million loan arranged by Goldman Sachs and announced Tuesday.

Work on the 83,000-square-foot Allegan County gaming facility off U.S. 131 had slowed as the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi and its backers faltered in their ability to secure the loan in time to continue construction in time to meet their original plan to open this fall.

The five-year, 12 percent loan, which can be paid off after the third year, means the casino should be able to open sometime in early 2011, according to a statement released by the tribe. A specific opening date is expected to be announced soon.

“We’re going to shoot for January,” said John Shagonaby, chief executive of the Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority. “It’s all an estimate at this point. Once we get a couple of months into construction, we’ll be able to have a better idea.”

The delay was the latest in a string of setbacks for the tribe, which spent more than 10 years dealing with regulatory and court challenges only to emerge into a dicey economy that resulted in plans for the casino being scaled back when they were announced last year.

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Gun Lake Casino Construction Update

From Indianz:

The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, held a topping out ceremony for the $157 million Gun Lake Casino last week.

The tribe began work on the 83,000-square-foot facility last fall. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the summer.

The casino is located off a major interstate in Wayland Township, Michigan. Continue reading

Gun Lake Band Casino Financing Should Not Be Affected by Stations Casino’s Bankruptcy

From the Vegas Review-Journal:

While Station Casinos plans to file for bankruptcy in March, a joint venture of the casino company plans to seek financing and break ground within weeks on a $200 million American Indian casino in Michigan.

Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson said its tribal gaming contracts wouldn’t be affected by the restructuring because contracts are held separately from the casino company’s financing structure.

Station Casinos announced late Tuesday its plans for prepackaged bankruptcy pending approval from investors holding $2.3 billion of the company’s $5.4 billion debt load.

Dennis Farrell Jr., a bond analyst for Wachovia Capital Markets, agreed the pending bankruptcy would not affect financing for the new casino.

“It will be financed on its own and Stations will help support the project,” said Farrell, adding that the company will collect a management fee once the casino opens.

***The Michigan casino was able to move ahead when a 10-year legal struggle by the Gun Lake Tribe, also known as the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi, ended Jan. 30. At that time, the U.S. Department of Interior authorized the placing of 146 acres into trust. That move was made possible when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Jan. 21 not to hear an opposition group’s petition to block the casino.

The tribe’s gaming compact should be voted on in the Michigan Legislature in the next few weeks, tribe spokesman James Nye said.

He said the tribe plans to break ground on the casino in the next “several weeks.”

It would take nearly 16 months to convert an old 192,000-square-foot factory and warehouse into a casino with up to 2,500 slots machines, 75 table games, restaurants and a buffet.

Casinos close to cashing in

by Chris Killian | Special to the Gazette

Saturday February 09, 2008, 6:32 PM

Two area gambling hubs could open by late next year, pending court ruling

Mark Bugnaski / GazetteKristine Albers checks new decks of cards at The Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo in August. By mid-to-late 2009, southwest Michigan could have two more casinos.

Two Native American casinos could be open in Southwest Michigan by the middle to end of next year, bringing with them an estimated 3,000 casino jobs, another 2,600 spin-off jobs and the potential for millions of dollars in annual local-revenue sharing. They would become the 22nd and 23rd casinos in the state, and both would be within an hour’s drive of Kalamazoo.Ground could be broken as soon as this spring on both the FireKeepers Casino in Emmett Township, just east of Battle Creek, and the Gun Lake Casino, in Wayland Township, about 35 miles north of Kalamazoo on U.S. 131.

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