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Big Money Changes Michigan Indian Casino Business

8 January 2001

LANSING, Michigan -- Jan. 7, 2001-- As reported by Michigan Live: "Michigan Indian tribes managed their own casinos through most of the 1990s as they watched gambling on their reservations grow into a $700 million annual business.

"But newly acknowledged tribes are turning to non-Indian gaming companies to finance and operate the gambling facilities they expect to open in coming years.

"Experts say the use of management companies is just one sign of the changing nature of casino gambling in Michigan.

"...In that hyper-competitive situation, tribes can still profit by entering the casino business, [Jake Miklojcik, a Lansing economic consultant] said. But getting started will be much more expensive than it was.

"...For 2001, total revenues could approach $2 billion for the 16 tribal and three non-Indian Detroit casinos operating in the state, based on current revenues.

"The first casinos on Indian reservations opened in pole barns, garages or converted bingo halls. Startup expenses were minimal. The tribes gained experience from running the small facilities and used the revenues to finance expansion.

"...When the state's next two Indian casinos open along I-94 in Southwest Michigan, most likely sometime in 2002, each will carry an initial price tag of $60 million to $100 million.

"...The Pokagon Band is working with Lakes Gaming to build a casino with up to 3,000 slot machines at New Buffalo, in the southwest corner of the state.

"...Another tribe, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, has selected a site just east of Battle Creek. The Huron Band is working in partnership with Gaming Entertainment Michigan Inc., which is a joint venture of two other out-of-state gaming firms.

"...If the two I-94 casinos become a reality - and if a separate tribe wins its battle for the right to build one near US-131 south of Grand Rapids - every large city in Michigan would be within an hour's drive of at least one gambling house..."

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