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22Dec/100

Michigan Attorney General’s Office Sues Bay Mills Indian Com

In an effort to shut down a northern Michigan casino run by the Bay Mills Indian Community, the Michigan attorney general's office is suing.

A federal suit was filed by the state saying the casino in Vanderbilt is illegal because it is not on Indian land. Bought in the northern Lower Peninsula, it is on property Bay Mills, well south of its reservation in the Upper Peninsula.

Ordering to close the casino with roughly 40 slot machines, the state last week sent a letter to Bay Mills. With the state's analysis, Bay Mills officials disagree and they are keeping the casino open. To close the casino that opened in November, the suit seeks an injunction.

In a statement, Chairman Jeff Parker said that his tribe would not have opened the casino if it were not sure the Vanderbilt operation is legal. He said that to defend that position in court the tribe is prepared. With the casino remaining open despite orders to close, there was no word on the next move from the state.

In nearby Petoskey, the Little Traverse Bay Bands runs the Odawa Casino Resort. The tribe is supposed to share its casino revenues with the state, under a contract with Michigan. However, because of a breach of contract, Harrington says the tribe no longer has to do that. The Vanderbilt casino should have been shut down immediately when it opened last month, but Michigan did not have a process in place for doing so.

Harrington said he met with Bay Mills chairman Parker Friday to notify him of their plans, prior to filing the lawsuit asking for the sanction to close the Vanderbilt casino.

In the former Treetops Resort information center, Bay Mills opened its casino on Nov. 3, which it had purchased this summer on 45.6 acres of land. With a 1,400-square-foot expansion under way, the casino currently has 38 slot machines with plans to add additional slot machines when completed.

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