ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. — An area casino is taking their revenue and putting it to good use: back into their local communities.
In 2021, Gun Lake Casino donated over $280,000 to community organizations, and those organizations said it has made a huge impact.
"The biggest thing for us is, Does this make an impact for the community? Who is this helping and how can we help them? Again without the community, we are just a building, and the community means so much to all of us," said Gun Lake Casino's Assistant General Manager Carter Pavey.
Gun Lake Casino has been giving back since their beginning in 2011. To date, they've paid out $166 million through compact revenue sharing and $2.6 million through charitable donations.
"Giving back to the surrounding communities is extremely important to us. The community is what makes us Gun Lake Casino. Without their support, we are just a building. We want to give back and make that impact in their lives as much as they are making an impact in our lives," said Pavey.
In addition to compact revenue sharing and charitable donations, the casino has also raised over $70,000 through donation boxes on the casino floor over the past year.
That money was distributed to 12 different nonprofits.
Those nonprofits include Special Olympics Michigan, Toys for Tots, Paws with a Cause and the American Cancer Society.
"Gun Lake Casino has actually, since the start of our partnership, more than doubled the donations they've given to us, and what's really special is they've been able to allow their customer base to contribute as well," said American Cancer Society's Associate Director for Development in the West Michigan Market Susan Brogger.
Funds donated to the American Cancer Society have gone to causes like cancer research, transportation for patients to and from the hospital, and even mentorship programs that connect cancer patients to cancer survivors.
For Special Olympics Michigan, the funds have greatly helped them as well.
"Their investments in us make sure that there is never a cost for any of our athletes to participate in any of our actives, whether that is on the court, on the field as part of our sports-related activities or other programs we have, like health screening, leadership training, global messenger program, unified sports in high school. There are variety of things that we do," said Special Olympics Michigan Chief Officer of Strategic Growth Jennifer Van Skiver.
It's not just the checks being written, though; Gun Lake Casino employees are also a big part of giving back.
"They do need that money but the manpower is something that is so valuable to them. For us, we have 1,200 team members who are ready, willing and able to jump the helm and ask how they can help," said Pavey.
So far this year in 2022, Gun Lake Casino has donated around $40,000 in charitable donations and said they're on track to beat last year's donation numbers.
They are also already working on donations for 2023.
Through compact revenue sharing, Gun Lake Casino has also paid money to Wayland Union Schools and six townships, including Wayland Township, Martin Township, Hopkins Township, Door Township, Yankee Springs and Leighton Township as well as the city of Wayland and Allegan County.
To date through compact revenue sharing, the above list has received $40.1 million collectively.