The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians owns and manages the Little River Band Casino. Yet, the gaming venue is determined to reapply for another gaming license in Michigan.
It wants to build a casino near Fruitport Township, Muskegon County, and the tribal leaders are seeking a face-to-face meeting with Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The Tribe's Determination
Whitmer halted the Little River Band's plan to develop another gaming property in her county almost ten months ago. Yet, she will handle the same issue again.
Drew Ellis from PlayMichigan states that Larry Romanelli, the Tribal Ogema, wants to meet with Whitmer soon to discuss their license reapplication. He revealed that he had called the governor requesting to meet with her.
Romanelli said that they waited for federal recognition throughout 2022 as that has been their major obstacle to developing another casino in the region. But, he understood the governor's view about their request last year.
Even so, the tribe is still determined to realize its gaming dream. The Tribal Ogema is optimistic that their renewed efforts will finally bear fruit. But they need to reconsider the background of the pending issue as other native groups also sought gaming licenses in the state several years ago.
What Prompted Romanelli's Call?
Romanelli disclosed that the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) new determination prompted him to call the governor. The Tribal Ogema made the decision due to the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians and not the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.
The group wants to recognize the federal government to recognize it as a sovereign entity. Yet, the BIA turned down the request last month hence making the Grand River Bands' ownership claims of land near Fruitport Township.
If the BIA recognized the Grand River Bands, the BIA could take that land in trust for the group. This would have allowed the tribe to operate a Michigan tribal gaming site and create a gaming compact. The two casinos won't hinder each other's operations due to their proximity.
Whitmer's determination to accept the proposal is uncertain now as the Grand Rivers Bands have more time to appeal the BIA's move. Even so, a U.S. Congress act can offer the Grand River Bands' decision the governor can decide to buy time until the Grand River Bands' deadline to appeal lapses.
What Is at Stake for the Two Tribes?
Romanelli has a high probability of meeting Whitmer. But, its outcome might not please him.
The governor is in a dilemma on which casino to support. She would have ruined the Grand River Bands' future if she approved the Little River Band's gaming plan. Still, the governor can damage the native tribe as the Little River Band's gaming project becomes costlier each new month.
Some gaming experts predict that the BIA will reject the Grand River Bands' plan since the Little River Band Casino is near its territory. Besides, the project has been delayed for long.