Arts & Entertainment, Economic Development, and Government

Gun Lake Casino makes $8.4M revenue-sharing payments

June 10, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Gun Lake Casino spring payment is $8.4 million
Gun Lake Casino contributes a portion of its slot machine revenues to local and state government. Photo via fb.com

The Gun Lake Tribe has announced that its spring revenue-sharing payments to the state and local governments from its casino revenues in Wayland Township will exceed $8.4 million and now total more than $34 million since the Gun Lake Casino opened in February 2011.

The state of Michigan received $6,735,718 while the local revenue sharing board received $1,683,929, based on slot machine revenue from Oct. 1, 2012, to March 31.

The last payments made by the Gun Lake Tribe in November totaled slightly more than $8.6 million, with the state getting $7,002,443 and the local payment being $1,679,512.

The revenue sharing payments are made every six months and are a stipulation in the tribe’s compact with the state of Michigan. The federal government requires a compact with the state before a Michigan tribe can open a casino.

The Gun Lake Tribe said that under the compact, it gives the local municipal governments 2 percent of its net win from electronic gaming devices, while the state payment is calculated on a sliding scale between 8 and 12 percent.

The local payment would indicate the Gun Lake Casino’s slot revenue from Oct. 1 to March 31 was just under $84.2 million. That does not include revenue from its table games.

The tribe noted that the state revenue sharing payments are dependent on the continued preservation of exclusive gaming rights within the tribe’s competitive market area, as defined by the gaming compact, which includes the cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing, as well as the entire counties of Kent, Kalamazoo and Ingham, among others.

“Today marks the tribe’s fifth distribution of revenues to local and state governments,” said Ed Pigeon, vice chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe. “To date we have provided over $35 million in funding for infrastructure, law enforcement, schools, and the (Michigan Economic Development Corp.) which has improved the quality of life for the citizens of Michigan.”

The Gun Lake Casino employs more than 800, according to the tribe.

The revenue shared with the local municipalities is intended to offset their increased costs due to the operation of the casino, such as highway infrastructure, public safety services and replacement of property tax revenue.

An effort is now underway to open a tribal casino in Lansing, which could jeopardize the Gun Lake Tribe’s annual revenue sharing payments to the state of Michigan. The $245 million casino in downtown Lansing is proposed by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, in partnership with the city of Lansing and a development group. The Sault tribe already operates five Kewadin casinos in the U.P.

There are 12 Native American tribes in Michigan that now operate casinos, but six of those stopped making payments to the state in 1999 because other casinos were allowed to open, which they said amounted to the state breaking its promise of exclusivity in their market areas. However, they all still make their payments to their local municipalities.

According to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the tribal casino now making the largest annual revenue sharing payments to the state and local governments is the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which owns the three Four Winds casinos in southwest Michigan. Its total payments to the local municipalities in 2012 were more than $6.6 million, compared to Gun Lake’s $3.3 million. Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant came in second in the local payments, with $5.8 million.

Since the first tribal casino opened in Michigan, the state government has received a total of more than $482 million in revenue sharing payments, according to the MGCB.

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