All Bets Are Off

December 8, 2004
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LANSING — The state Senate voted today to rescind the resolution that awarded a gaming compact to the Gun Lake Band of Potawatomi Indians for a casino in Allegan County.

Senate action eliminates any chance for Gov. Jennifer Granholm to sign the compact and give the tribe the right to build the gaming operation on the former Ampro Industries site in Wayland Township. Although the resolution was ratified before Granholm took office, her predecessor, three-term Gov. John Engler, never signed the compact.

Twenty-four of 37 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, voted to repeal the 1998 resolution.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce opposed the casino from its inception, saying that a gaming operation would siphon $66 million each year from businesses in Kent, Ottawa and Kalamazoo counties. Chamber officials said Kent had the most to lose, roughly $50 million in business revenue annually.

The most recent local opposition to the Gun Lake Casino came from 23 Is Enough, a political action committee comprised of private individuals and public officials headed by former Perrigo Chairman Mike Jandernoa.

Just last month, 23 Is Enough announced that it was taking its fight against electronic gaming nationwide, while keeping its focus on casino activity in Michigan after voters supported a proposal last month that requires local approval for a casino to be built.

“We are ecstatic. This resolution effectively kills the Gun Lake casino. The voters spoke loud and clear on election day and the Michigan Senate spoke loud and clear today in opposition to casino expansion,” said John Helmholdt, spokesman for 23 Is Enough.

“The Senate resolution today makes it virtually impossible for the proponents of Gun Lake to come back and get them to overturn this. This was a big win for 23 Is Enough,” he added.

The Allegan County Chamber of Commerce supported the Wayland casino because a report filed by the Gun Lake tribe said it would create 4,300 jobs, be worth more than $100 million in revenue annually, bring more tourists to the county, and create other business opportunities.        

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