FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A casino project by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Muskegon County has been approved by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The process now moves to the state, where the tribe will work with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on negotiations so the casino can be built at a former racetrack in Fruitport Township, according to a news release Thursday.
“This ruling clears the way for our Tribe to work with the Governor to create 3,000 new jobs and a permanent, year-round entertainment venue in Muskegon County,” Tribal Ogema Larry Romanelli said. “We thank the Muskegon community and other West Michigan communities for their support over the past 12 years and we look forward to putting shovels in the ground.”
Fruitport Community Schools Superintendent Bob Syzmoniak says the township has been awaiting approval for the project for more than a decade now.
“A casino would bring jobs, new residents and economic development to Muskegon,” he said. “The school district is 100% behind the tribe and this project.”
The casino project is expected to bring about 3,000 jobs to the region, including 1,500 high-paying, full-time jobs and 1,500 construction and ancillary jobs.
Once completed, it’s expected to bring 1.8 million visitors per year.
The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is building the casino with internal financial resources – no taxpayer dollars – but is expected to generate economic development of $15 million in tax revenue for the state and millions more for local government.