Romulus Casino Update

From the Journal Newspapers:

Romulus Mayor will pitch casino approval on Capitol Hill

A delegation of city officials hope elected officials will be swayed by testimony they plan to give regarding the impact a casino would have in Wayne County before the Legislature early in 2008.

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Op-Ed Favoring Sault Tribe and Bay Mills Land Claims Settlement Acts

From the Port Huron Time Herald:

Democratic process is lost in decisions made at national level

Those required “Problems of Democracy” classes you took in high school are long on theory, but very short on reality.You saw it again a week ago. After several previous attempts, the Bay Mills Indian Community sought approval of a Michigan land settlement plan. The tribe would relinquish any claims to contested land at Charlotte Beach in exchange for the right to have property put into trust in the city of Port Huron.

HR 2176, the bill to approve the land-claim settlement between the state of Michigan and Bay Mills, was offered by U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, whose district includes the contested land. It was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, whose district includes the property to be put in trust as part of the settlement. The arrangement has the support of former Michigan Gov. John Engler and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Who was responsible for pressuring House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., into pulling the bill and thereby preventing it from being voted out of committee – let alone an up-or-down vote by the House and Senate? Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. The Senate majority leader pressured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to pull the plug.What has our government become when a senator 2,000 miles away can reach down into the belly of a House subcommittee and kill a bill that would provide staggering benefits for Port Huron? After six years, Bay Mills has yet to be permitted a vote -even by a subcommittee of either branch of Congress. That’s absolutely astonishing to any American who still believes in the precepts of American democracy – “one man, one vote.”

In small-town America, the democratic system actually works pretty smoothly. If you’re a county commissioner, school board trustee or village or city council member, all you have to do is make a motion, get just one other person to second it, and you get your day in court – an up-or-down vote.

In Congress, however, the system has been corrupted beyond belief. It’s a system where power is granted to members not based on “one man, one vote,” but on an anti-democratic arrangement where certain members can block a bill, giving them power way beyond their single vote.

What has the corruption of the democratic process in Congress cost Port Huron? As a community facing an economic depression, one of the highest unemployment rates in America and a federally-funded Blue Water Bridge Plaza project that is on the brink of annihilating Port Huron, Congress is six years into blocking a $500 million casino development that would provide 3,000 to 6,000 union jobs with the spin-off developments.

Who’s benefiting from this obvious attempt to block competition for Detroit’s good old boys? Along with Reid’s Nevada crowd (including Detroit’s MGM Grand Casino, with its record $55 million earnings in October), is the newly-crowned “Most Dangerous City in the Nation” – Detroit.

Think the battle for the Port Huron casino is over? I think not!

Cliff Schrader is a radio columnist on WGRT-FM 102.3. His Friday columns are part of a cooperative agreement between the radio station and the Times Herald. His opinions are his own and not those of the Times Herald or WGRT.

Ilitch’s Involved in Indian Gaming Development (Speculation?)

From the Freep:

Pair betting on a huge payoff from casinos

Ilitch, Malik raise stakes in Indian gaming



WASHINGTON — Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik are spending big money to navigate political hurdles for their plans for American Indian casinos on both coasts and in Michigan.

Ilitch is one of Michigan’s most powerful and wealthy women as owner of the MotorCity Casino and co-owner of the Detroit Red Wings with her husband, Mike, who also owns the Detroit Tigers. Malik is a big-time real estate developer, casino entrepreneur and, in at least a couple of ventures, Marian Ilitch’s partner.

Together, they have spent more than $1 million on lobbyists for their casino proposals and made more than $400,000 in political contributions during the last five years.

Money has gone to Northeastern Democrats, West Coast Republicans and many key races and causes in between. A few months after a fund-raiser for Sen. Carl Levin early this year, the Detroit Democrat agreed to support a casino project in Port Huron, despite opposition from some city officials and its congressional delegation.

So far, the investments have not led to approvals for the casino proposals, but the potential payoff is enormous.

“It could mean as much as $100- to $200 million a year for the Ilitches. … So it’s certainly worth their while,” said Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business, a trade magazine. Whatever they’re spending, he added, “is peanuts compared to what they could take in.”

Their bets are still long shots, having run into a stretch of bad luck. In California, where Ilitch and Malik are working with two tribes for a casino in Barstow, on the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, the legislature let a compact expire.

In New York, where they are working with the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a federal judge has ruled against the tribe’s land claim in Southampton.

Last week, a House committee abruptly delayed a hearing on the plan for an Indian casino in Port Huron. Unlike the other proposals, Malik and the Bay Mills tribe from the eastern Upper Peninsula are working without Ilitch. Though it has her tacit support, she can’t be directly involved because of her casino ownership in Detroit.

Tom Shields, a spokesman for Ilitch and Malik, said the proposals all are in play.

“You can’t get into this thing unless you’re going to be in it for the long haul,” Shields said. “If you are successful, obviously, the investment pays off.”

Rep. Miller: Dems & Detroit Killed Sault Tribe and BMIC Bills

From the Port Huron Times Herald:

Your recent editorial about efforts to bring a casino to Port Huron shows the Times Herald is, at best, completely naive as to the politics behind this issue in Washington, D.C.

It is almost laughable that you are urging me to stand up to the bullying of my fellow Republicans to get this legislation passed. It is true some Republican members of Congress are opposed to any gaming expansion; however, as you may be aware, the Democrats control both the U.S. House and the Senate, every committee chairmanship and what legislation is heard in committee and on the floor.


Our bills were scheduled to be approved by the Natural Resources Committee. We were certain we had the necessary votes for passage, which is why it appears that Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada called Speaker Nancy Pelosi and asked her to pull the bill. We are aware that Las Vegas Casino interests and other tribes that fear competition were heavily lobbying against our bills, as were Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his mother Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, members of Congress representing Detroit.

BMIC and Sault Tribe Bills News Coverage

From Indianz:

Michigan off-reservation gaming bills delayed

The House Natural Resources Committee was due to consider two off-reservation gaming bills on Thursday but they were delayed due to opposition from Michigan. H.R. 2176 and H.R. 4115 settle land claims for the Bay Mills Indian Community and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, respectively. The bills allow the tribes to open casinos away from their existing reservations. The bills have the support of some members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation. But Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Michigan) opposes them and got House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to pull them from the committee’s markup yesterday, The Detroit Free Press reported. Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) also opposes the legislation, the paper said. “I will not call up those bills today,” Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), the chairman of the committee, said yesterday in response to the controversy.

Get the Story:
Casino proposals for Port Huron, Romulus on hold (The Detroit Free Press 11/15)
Dice yet to be rolled on new casinos (SooToday 11/15)

BMIC & Sault Tribe Land Claim Settlement Bills Tabled

From Indianz:

After a delay of more than one hour, the committee started the markup. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), however, said the two Michigan off-reservation gaming/land claim settlement bills will not be considered. “I will not call up those bills today,” the chairman said.

Bay Mills and Sault Tribe Land Settlement Bills

From Soo News: “The possibility of two new Michigan casinos operated by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Bay Mills Indian Community will be debated by legislators in Washington next week.

“On Thursday, the House’s Natural Resource Committee will consider bills to provide land for proposed casinos in Romulus near Detroit and Port Huron.”

Sault Tribe Land Settlement Deal and H.R. 3048

Our post on the Bay Mills bill is here.

Details about the House Resources Committee hearing will be here.

Port Huron Favors Bay Mills Settlement Act

From the Port Huron Times Herald: “Little by little, the odds for a Port Huron casino are beginning to improve. First, there was the important support U.S. Sen. Carl Levin gave the effort earlier this year, a setback to Detroit. Motor City officials have tried to block Port Huron’s bid, a development they view as a threat to Detroit’s three casinos.

“With new support from U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Port Huron’s casino effort marked another important sign of progress. The Rhode Island Democrat last week became a co-sponsor of H.R. 2176, legislation essential to Port Huron’s gambling facility.

“The bill seeks long-sought federal approval of a 2002 land trade between the state of Michigan and the Upper Peninsula’s Bay Mills Indian Community. The Chippewa band, based at Brimley, agreed to drop its claim to 110 acres of property at Charlotte Beach on the St. Marys River in exchange for the establishment of a new reservation on the property of Port Huron’s Thomas Edison Inn. The reservation would become the site of Port Huron’s Indian-run casino.”Despite his opposition to casino gambling, Gov. John Engler approved the deal. He did so largely because the Point Edward Charity Casino and Sarnia’s Hiawatha slot machines were drawing a substantial number of Americans who crossed the St. Clair River to gamble in Ontario. The Thomas Edison Inn casino would allow Port Huron to compete.”

Two Casinos in Romulus? Unlikely….

From the Romulus Roman: “It’s possible that the City of Romulus may house two casinos, after all.”Representatives from the Sioux Indians contacted the city recently to restart negotiations that had halted in 2004. The tribe successfully lobbied the city for a ballot issue in 2003 that paved the way for gaming in the city.

“Mayor Alan Lambert said the interest of the tribe could mean that two casinos as opposed to one could be constructed near Detroit Metropolitan Airport.”


“In 2005, the Hannahville Indian Tribe signed a deal with the city to open a casino on Vining Road near the airport. State and federal approvals are still pending on that proposal.”

I think they mean “Sault” Indians, not “Sioux” Indians. In any event, the chances of this happening any time soon are paltry at best.