State Orders Vanderbilt Casino Closed

Dec 16, 2010

The state Attorney General has ordered the Bay Mills Indian Community to immediately close its small casino in Vanderbilt, north of Gaylord.

Bay Mills just opened the casino last month, and the Upper Peninsula tribe has faced a swarm of criticism in the move. It didn't go through the normal state and federal approval process to open.

Critics, including five other gaming tribes, call the move unfair competition.

Now the Attorney General also says the casino is illegal.

It's widely said that Bay Mills is just using Vanderbilt as a test case for a novel legal theory that would allow the tribe to buy land and build a casino anywhere it wants, and a spokesman for opposition tribes says that would open the door to unchecked casino expansion in Michigan.

Just this week, Bay Mills responded to critics in a press release saying there are very few tribes authorized by Congress to buy land for casinos in this way. Bay Mills is one. "We are operating our venue in Vanderbilt legally."

Play the audio above to hear more from IPR's Linda Stephan. 
*Note: Audio has been edited to reflect the proper title lf the chair of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.