Mackinaw City is actually a small village in Emmet County with a mere population of 806 at the time of the 2010 Census. It is a resort community located on the shores of the Straits of Mackinac at the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The casino’s location is slated for just below the Mackinac Bridge at 1020 S. Nicolet St., previously the King’s Inn hotel.
The Tribal Council voted 5-2 (one member was absent) on September 23 to shift $970,000 to its capital project fund for pre-construction fees and consultation for a satellite casino in the city.
Under the tribe’s amended compact with the state of Michigan, the tribe is allowed to build a second casino in Emmet County, states a tribal press release dated September 24. The tribe already operates the $140 million Odawa Casino Resort, located just south of the lakeside town Petoskey in Emmet County; it opened in June 2007.
Mackinaw City was originally considered as a site for a casino before the Petoskey-area gaming destination was built, the release states.
The Mackinaw City satellite casino would initially only offer slot gaming, featuring 550 slot machines and a small food and beverage outlet to serve patrons. In comparison, Odawa Casino Resort offers 1,300 slot machines and other gaming.
Feasibility studies show the moderate size would be appropriate for the community, and the casino would create 100 construction jobs and approximately 80 full-time casino jobs. It is expected to generate $5 million in annual revenues, according to the Petoskey News-Review.
The Tribal Council has sent a letter to the Village of Mackinaw City requesting to be placed on the Village’s agenda. Back in 2003, Village reception was poor to the tribe’s request to build a casino in Mackinaw City. In July 2003, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm approved the tribe to have a second casino in the village, but in September 2003 the Mackinaw City Village Council rejected the proposed casino on a 6-1 vote.
Tribal member reaction to casino development plans is mixed. Some support the economic development while others want to pay off the amount still owed on the Petoskey casino.