Saganing Eagles Landing Casino To Celebrate Expansion as Other Michigan Tribal Operator Faces Opposition

Posted on: September 5, 2019, 06:18h. 

Last updated on: September 6, 2019, 01:28h.

Michigan Saganing Eagles Landing Casino will mark a two-year, multi-million dollar expansion — including a new hotel and additional slots — with an opening event Friday.

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe Chief Frank Cloutier says upgrades to Michigan’s Saganing Eagles Landing Casino will lead to economic growth. (Image: The Morning Sun)

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe property — located near Standish — built a 148-room, five-story hotel. A new restaurant and bar are to open, too. The casino will now have 1,200 slot machines, an additional 400, according to earlier statements from the casino.

This expansion further solidifies our presence in our aboriginal territory and shows our commitment to the community and economic growth for the region,” Chief Frank Cloutier said in an earlier statement published by Michigan Live.

The property has held job fairs to staff the hotel and upgraded casino. Earlier, officials said there would be 100 new full-time or part-time positions. That makes a total number of employees of about 500, Michigan Live reported.

Also, the tribe’s companion Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant completed upgrades last year. The $26.5 million renovations added a sports bar, night club, high-limit gambling floor and VIP lounge, the report said.

Last year, Soaring Eagle had more than 2,500 employees. The tribe in August posted 48 new casino jobs at either Soaring Eagle or Saganing Eagle Landing.

As of last year, the two casinos got between 7,000 and 8,000 visitors a day. That works out to some 2.5 million to 2.8 million visitors a year, according to spokesman Erik Rodriguez, quoted by Michigan Live.

Tribal officials could not be reached by for comments on the expansion and whether the region’s gaming market could get saturated.

Three Tribes Oppose LRBOI Casino Plan

Elsewhere in Michigan, earlier this year the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (LRBOI) reacted angrily to a bid by three other Michigan tribal operators to derail its plans for a $180 million casino that would be built on the vacant Great Lakes Downs Racetrack, Michigan Live reported.

If approved, the property would have some 1,700 slot machines, 35 gaming tables, and a 220-room hotel. The tribe hopes to open the casino in 2020.

It would lead to between 1,000 and 1,500 permanent jobs if the proposed venue is able to open. The tribe has been planning the casino in Fruitport Township, Michigan for 11 years, largely with the support of the local community.

It already operates the Little River Casino Resort on its Manistee reservation, but since its second casino would be built off its sovereign land, it requires the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs to take the new land into trust for the tribe.

Formal objections against the planned LRBOI casino were voiced by the Gun Lake Tribe, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, and the Saginaw Chippewa Indians. Each of those tribes operates a gaming venue less than two hours away from the proposed venue.

For Larry Romanelli, the tribal ogema or LRBOI chief, the response was particularly hurtful, given that his tribe supported the Gun Lake Tribe’s bid for a casino in the late 2000s. Increased competition to its own operations was not an issue for LRBOI back then.

Online Gambling Gets Considered in Michigan

Michigan has also been involved in a debate over online gambling. In June, Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — who is not a fan of the state’s legislative effort to legalize online gaming — was at loggerheads with the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Township).

The governor feels that a future online gaming market would cannibalize the state’s online and retail lottery revenues, draining money from school programs.

“I’ve said very clearly, over and over again, that protecting the School Aid Fund, ensuring that we get every dollar back into the education of our kids is my top priority,” Whitmer told Michigan Radio earlier this year. “I’m going to have a hard time supporting anything that doesn’t protect that goal.”