March 7, 2024 3 min read


Michigan Tribe Continues to Pursue Land-Based Casino Expansion

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians' efforts toward the development of two new casinos in Michigan's lower peninsula continue

For more than a decade, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (SSM Tribe) has been making efforts to expand its land-based presence with the development of two new casinos. While the Tribe currently operates five Kewadin Casinos around Michigan’s upper peninsula, it has been pursuing expansion to Lansing and New Boston.

The efforts of the SSM Tribe included purchasing land at the two aforementioned locations back in 2012. At the time, the Tribe purchased 2.3 acres of land in Lansing, as well as 71 acres in New Boston. Ultimately, the land was expected to be used by the Tribe for its new casinos which are expected to bring economic stimulus.

According to the SSM Tribe, the land for the two sites was purchased via its Self-Sufficiency Fund. While the Tribe asked the US Department of Interior (DOI), to take the land into trust, which is required for the building of casinos, the agency refused to do so. Citing the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act (MILCSA), the DOI rejected the request of the Tribe to take the land into trust in 2017. At the time, the agency explained that per MILCSA, the tribe cannot use the Self-Sufficiency Fund for gambling activities.

Disagreeing with the DOI, the SSM Tribe launched a lawsuit in 2018. It said that the agency’s decision was in breach of the MILCSA and may stifle its further growth and welfare. However, the DOI’s decision was later reaffirmed by US District Judge Trevor N. McFadden.

However, as announced by PlayMichigan, the SSM Tribe hasn’t given up on the legal fight. The latest episode of the legal saga saw the Tribe raise the matter with the DC Circuit Court. In its legal claim, the SSM Tribe asked the Circuit Court to overturn McFadden’s ruling that reaffirmed the DOI was correct to reject taking the lands into trust under MILCSA.

If the DC Circuit Court overturns the ruling, the Tribe may finally achieve an important milestone in the planned expansion of its land-based portfolio. In case this happens, the land must be taken into trust, paving the way for the development of the Tribe’s two new venues planned in Lansing and New Detroit.

Elsewhere in Michigan, last month, Fanatics Betting and Gaming rolled out its iGaming and sports betting application. The launch made Michigan the thirteenth state where Fanatics has established its sports betting operations and the third state where Fanatics Casino is available.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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