Whitmer expected to push back deadline for signing Muskegon Co. casino proposal

Muskegon County

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The deadline for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to decide on a casino proposal for Muskegon County is just days away, but it could be pushed back for up to six additional months.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is expecting a delay and is awaiting formal notification.

“We’ve been working very hard over the last 12 years to make sure that we did everything that we needed to get the approval from the Department of the Interior,” said Tribal Ogema Larry Romanelli.

The tribe says it has been in discussions with the governor’s office regarding the proposal, which was originally submitted on Dec. 16 of last year.

“Her staff has been very busy, obviously we’ve all been busy, with COVID and all the effects of COVID and so they would probably need a little more time,” Romanelli said.

The tribe has proposed a casino with a 70,000 square foot gaming floor and a 220-room hotel on a former horse racing track near the US-31 and I-96 interchange near Muskegon. 

Muskegon County Community Development Director Bob Lukens says the project will bring jobs to the area and will help grow tourism.

“The quicker we learn about the decision. The quicker they’ll be able to begin construction on it,” Lukens said. “We have the lake, we have Michigan’s Adventure, we have a variety of attractions here but adding a casino to it I think would be very important as a destination.”

A spokesperson for the governor tells News 8 the proposed development remains under review.

—Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of the Muskegon County community development director. We regret the error, which has been fixed.

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