Gun Lake Casino antes up again

December 5, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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The Gun Lake Casino in Wayland Township, in accord with its agreement with the state of Michigan and the local governments, has made its second revenue-sharing payments of more than $7.8 million, covering the period from April 1 to Sept. 30.

The casino opened in February and made its first payments of slightly more than $2.5 million in June.

The payments made last week in a ceremony at the Wayland Union Schools Fine Arts Center were $6,241,766 to the state of Michigan, and $1,560,441 to the local revenue-sharing board.

The amounts are based on the casino’s slot machine revenues. The casino opened with about 700 employees, but within weeks had to add an additional 200 to accommodate a higher-than-expected level of business.

The local revenue share equals 2 percent of net win from electronic gaming devices, while the state payment is calculated on a sliding scale between 8 and 12 percent, depending on revenue. The latest payment to the state of Michigan is equal to 8 percent of the net win from electronic gaming revenue.

The compact prescribes mandatory funding to local municipalities for costs incurred due to the operation of the casino, which includes public safety services and replacement of tax revenue. The tribal properties are not subject to taxation.

The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Wayland Township Area Local Revenue Sharing Board was created to administer the local revenue-sharing payments under bylaws it has established. The board includes three representatives of the Gun Lake Tribe and three representatives of local governments/communities, including Mark DeYoung, chairman of the Allegan County Board of Commissioners, Wayland Township Supervisor Roger VanVolkinburg, and Linden Anderson, former mayor of Wayland.

“Speaking as an elected member of the County Commission, I can tell you firsthand that these revenues are a tremendous boost to municipal budgets,” said DeYoung. “The enhanced services have a very positive impact in the local community.”

DeYoung said the board’s bylaws govern distribution of funds to eligible organizations, under the terms of the casino compact with the government. The board has 60 days to determine how the funds will be split among local municipalities, school districts and civic groups.

The revenue shared with the state goes to economic development and job creation programs administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The payments are dependent on the continued preservation of exclusive gaming rights within the tribe’s competitive market area, as defined by the compact, which includes the cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing, as well as the counties of Kent, Kalamazoo and Ingham, among others.

However, the local revenue shared by the tribe is not dependent on it having exclusive gaming rights in the region.

According to Denise Behm, executive director of the Wayland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Gun Lake Casino has helped spark business in the area.

“Since the casino opened, I took a random poll of area businesses to see how the casino has impacted local business owners,” Behm told the Business Journal. “The overwhelming response was an increase in business across the board. The community appreciates the hundreds of good-paying jobs and significant revenue-sharing funds to our local school district and area municipalities.”

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