NewsLocal NewsLakeshoreMuskegon


Supporters rally for Whitmer to approve casino project in Fruitport Twp.

Stack of chips on roulette table
Posted at 2:53 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 14:53:39-04

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Community leaders on Friday joined tribal leaders and members of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians to petition Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow them to build a casino in Fruitport Township.

This is the final step in their effort to build the tribe’s Muskegon Casino Project, according to a news release.

The rally took place at the Muskegon Museum of Art.

Whitmer has until Dec. 16 to either agree to support the casino project or ask the federal government for a one-time, six-month extension. If she doesn’t act or support, the project ends.

“With the governor’s sign-off, we can create 3,000 jobs and the initial work can begin in months,” said Larry Romanelli, Tribal Omega of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. “We are fortunate to have resounding support from community leaders, businesses, unions and individuals throughout the county. They know this region needs the jobs, the revenues and the benefits a Muskegon casino would bring.”

The $180 million proposed casino is on the 86-acre site of the former Great Lakes Downs Racetrack that the tribe bought back in 2007.

The site and the tribe went through an extensive environmental impact analysis that took almost 10 years before being approved by the Federal Department of Interior last December.

Beginning the construction process just needs the governor’s signature.

“This project will be built by some of the finest craftsmen and women in this state who can’t wait for this project to get started,” said Ryan Bennett, president of West Michigan Building Trades. “But Muskegon also needs a large employer to raise the standards for all workers in the county. This Little River project will do just that. These are good-paying jobs with benefits and opportunities for advancement. We need Gov. Whitmer to join us and help make that possible by approving this project.”

Supporters say the casino would attract more than 1.8 million visitors per year and provide the hotel rooms needed to bring larger conventions to the Muskegon area.