Updated: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2008, 1:48 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 29 Jul 2008, 7:00 PM EDT
By Patrick Center
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) - Bruce McKee describes the new Firekeepers Casino as "the new frontier" of Native American gaming, an industry generating $26 billion in revenue throughout the US.
McKee is the general manager of the casino slated to open in Summer 2009, and sees casinos as a growth industry for the state.
"For Michigan, it's been a great boon to the economy," he told 24 Hour News 8. "It's created tremendous employment, tremendous ripple effect with purchasing and services and so forth. It's been a great industry for Michigan as it has been throughout the country."
There are many casinos in Michigan, both tribal and non-tribal. McKee doesn't believe the state has reached a saturation point.
"The Battle Creek market is somewhat underserved, in that you must drive an hour-and-a-half or two hours to get to the closest location," he said. "This is a convenience market and patrons will come to the closest facility, all things being equal."
Casinos, a convenience like store shopping in your neighborhood. You can save on gas and travel, and the casinos are banking on more frequent visits.
Most Michigan casinos target a market within a 50-75 mile radius. The nearest casino to Firekeepers is Four Winds in New Buffalo.
Firekeepers will be opening in phases. There will not be a hotel in their first phase, but "we expect to have one in the second phase, where we can extend our market reach beyond 100 miles."
McKee is optimistic about the casino. "We think we're as centrally located, we certainly do have good demographics, and with all of the towns within a 45-minute-to-an-hour, that's a good market location."
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