FireKeepers Casino

EMMETT TOWNSHIP, MI-The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians can build a $275 million casino here, with plans for 2,500 slot machines, 90 table games, 20 poker tables and six restaurants. Plans also call for a 2,000-car parking structure.

Full House Resorts Inc. has partnered with the tribe to build the casino, with $275 million in financing provided by Merrill Lynch, in this Battle Creek suburb at 11 Mile Road near I-94, on the former Sackrider Farm site. The property, to be called FireKeepers Casino, will be managed by Full House.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, in cooperation with the National Indian Gaming Commission, recently completed the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the fee-to-trust transfer and reservation designation of land for the casino. Also, the state court has agreed that a local opposition group, the Citizens Exposing Truth About Casinos, has no standing in the case. The group had challenged the tribe’s claim to the land, and other opponents claim the facility will attract crime and traffic.

A spokesman for Full House could not be reached for comment. Andre Hilliou, CEO of the company, said in a statement that he hopes the new casino will provide jobs and benefits to the people of southern Michigan. “We hope now, once and for all, these anti-gaming groups have seen that gaming is a legitimate business and in the case of Indian gaming, a highly successful means of funding tribal self-determination and self-sufficiency.”

With final governmental approvals expected this summer, the tribe should begin construction later this year, with an opening in 2008. Full House, based in Las Vegas, owns casinos in places such as Fallon, NV; Harrington, DE and is developing casinos in areas in New Mexico and Montana.