Gun Lake’s fall payment more than $8.7 million

Meanwhile, the Wayland Township casino plans to reveal an expansion.

November 22, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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The 1,578 slot machines at the Gun Lake Casino south of Grand Rapids just generated a fall revenue-sharing payment to the state and local governments of more than $8.79 million, according to the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians.

The tribe’s fall revenue-sharing payments announced last week, covering the period from April 1 to Sept. 30, was $7,105,664 to the state of Michigan and $1,684,347 to the local revenue-sharing board. The local payment reflects 2 percent of the casino’s revenue from electronic gaming devices, while the state payment is based on a sliding scale between 8 and 12 percent.

The revenue-sharing payments are made in the spring and fall, under terms of the agreement the tribe made with the state when setting up the casino. The Tribe noted that continued payments are dependent on the preservation of its exclusive right to operate casinos in its market area, a large region that includes the cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing, and the counties in that region.

“We are proud to announce the Gun Lake Tribe has shared over $44 million with state and local governments, schools, law enforcement and civic groups,” said D.K. Sprague, chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe, adding, “February will mark our third anniversary, and the future is bright.”

The 83,000-square-foot Gun Lake Casino is on U.S. 131 halfway between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and is open 24-7, with a capacity of about 4,500 people. It now employs more than 800.

The casino opened in February 2011 after a nearly decade-long series of legal battles and opposition from various opponents. The Tribe originally planned to build a casino about twice as large, but the Recession was in full swing when construction finally began in 2009, which hindered financing. The Tribe said the casino was designed for expansion.

This year heavy equipment began clearing tribal land to the north of the casino, and a construction project underway now at the east end of it is said by a township official to be a new valet stand. The existing valet stand is on the opposite end of the building.

The Tribe has declined to comment on its construction activities, although spokesman James Nye said last week tribal officials will go public on details about the projects in mid-December.

The Tribe’s announcement about the latest revenue-sharing payment includes comments from Allegan County state Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck.

“The Tribe has been a great neighbor. Local municipalities, schools, public safety and civic groups have received immeasurable benefits through revenue-sharing funds, and an increase in the local tax base,” said Genetski.

The agreement with the state requires the casino to provide funding to local municipalities for costs incurred due to its operation, including public safety services. The Tribe is not subject to state or federal taxation and the revenue sharing is also meant to replacement foregone tax revenue.

In addition to slot machines, Gun Lake has 33 table gambling games, bars, a food court, a restaurant seating 225 and live entertainment. It is owned by the Gun Lake Tribe, formally known as the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, and is operated for the Tribe by MPM Enterprises, an affiliate of Station Casinos in Las Vegas. It also involves private investors from Michigan.

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