WAYLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Some communities surrounding Gun Lake Casino are bracing for another economic hit caused by COVID-19: a drop in revenue sharing payments from the tribal casino.
Tuesday, the Gun Lake tribe announced it distributed $2.2 million to the following groups:
- Allegan County
- Wayland Union Schools
- Allegan Area Educational Service Agency
- Wayland Township
- Dorr Township
- Leighton Township
- Martin Township
- Hopkins Township
- Yankee Springs Township
The tribe says another $4.4 million went to the state government and $1.3 million was given to the economic development group GLIMI, based on electronic gaming revenue from Oct. 31 to March 31.
But tribe chairman Bob Peters warned the next revenue sharing check “will suffer a dramatic loss” because of closures and scaled back operations prompted by the coronavirus.
Gun Lake Casino shut down on March 16 as a precaution. When the casino reopens on June 8, fewer slot machines and table games will be running to encourage social distancing. The tribe says “non-gaming amenities” including the Harvest Buffet will remain closed, which also whittles away at revenue the tribe, its 1,100 casino employees and local communities rely on.
Tribe spokesman James Nye says it’s nearly impossible to predict the impact on revenue because many factors may change over the next several months based on the status of the pandemic, including the number of casino employees, visitors and business hours.
The tribe says an economic impact study it recently commissioned revealed the Gun Lake tribe added $1.5 billion to Michigan’s economy in the casino’s first seven years. The study also concluded the tribe spends $36 million each year on goods and services from Michigan-based businesses.