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LANSING, MI-Gov. John Engler recently announced that the state has reached an agreement with the Keneeway Bay Indian Community tribe on its Chocolay Township casino and has filed that settlement agreement in US District Court. It allows the casino to stay open if the federal court adopts the settlement reached between the state and the tribe. If adopted, the settlement will end several years of litigation during which the court has consistently refused to close the casino.

“This agreement limits casino proliferation and gaming expansion in Michigan,” says Gov. Engler. “There was simply no guarantee that the court would ever shut this facility down, or that the tribe wouldn’t receive approval for the casino from a future governor. The settlement allows the state to set restrictions and conditions that couldn’t be obtained any other way.”

The settlement filed in court today:

– Limits the KBIC to two casinos–one in Baraga County and one in Marquette County, as long as there are no new state-tribal compacts that allow new tribes to have more casinos. (The latest compacts only allow one casino per tribe.)

– The KBIC would move the casino to the old Marquette airport site (or other commercial site), if the US Secretary of Interior approves the tribe’s pending application for a casino there, and the Governor concurs.

– The tribe will pay 8% of casino revenues to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to support projects that benefit the state as a whole. The state would lose these payments if it allows new gaming under state law or if a future governor agrees to any other off-reservation casinos in nearby counties, providing an additional disincentive to gaming expansion.

– The state agrees not to demand renegotiation until 2022. (The current compact allows the state to demand renegotiation in either 2012 or 2017.)

The settlement filed today follows the US Secretary of the Interior’s decision in May to allow the Marquette casino to stay open. It now is up to the Federal court to decide whether to adopt that settlement reached between the state and the tribe. While the casino has its critics, it is supported by a majority of the surrounding community. The casino also provides over 200 jobs.

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