Obama Administration Weighs In On Vanderbilt Casino Dispute

May 24, 2013

It’s not clear whether the Obama Administration thinks a small Indian-run casino in Vanderbilt is legal, but the U.S. Solicitor General is clear that a case should not be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. That puts the federal government’s position at odds with the State of Michigan in the case.

At issue is whether the federal courts have jurisdiction to decide whether the casino has been built on “Indian lands.”

The Bay Mills Indian Community’s casino in Vanderbilt, north of Gaylord, opened quietly and without the consent of the state in 20-10. Some other northern Michigan Indian tribes oppose the casino, particularly the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. That tribe has a competing, and much larger, casino in Petoskey.

The Attorney General lost arguments before a federal appeals court judge last year and the state is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will step in and reverse that finding.

Bay Mills has chosen to keep the casino closed as the dispute plays out in the courts.