The City of Lansing and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians have proposed a new 125,000 square foot casino for downtown Lansing. The proposed location would be to the east of the Lansing Center and would provide 1500 permanent jobs and 700 temporary construction jobs.
The $245 million project would be paid by the tribe with the City collecting 2% of revenues. That 2% is estimated to bring in roughly $5 to $6 million dollars annually and would be used to fund a Lansing Promise Scholarship. The Lansing Promise program would be similar to the Kalamazoo Promise which provides 4 years of tuition and mandatory fees for any student of the Kalamazoo public school system. The program has been praised by many and credited with increasing home property values within the city limits of Kalamazoo.
There are several hurdles yet to be cleared in Lansing. The Sault tribe must still apply to the Federal government for approval and the existing casinos are likely to file lawsuits to block the new venture.
Proponents of the casino, including Lansing mayor Virg Bernero, tout the positive economic impact that the casino would bring. Not only would it directly create jobs at the casino but, without a hotel of its own, numerous jobs would be created at local hotels. The increased traffic downtown would also certainly provide more business to local eateries and other businesses.
The Lansing Center next door would also likely benefit. The expo and convention center currently loses about $1.1 million per year and having a popular attraction next door would likely have a positive influence on the number of events held there.
Mayor Bernero hopes that construction could begin in the next 12-24 months with about a year of construction time. There will certainly be many debates as to the effect a casino would have on downtown Lansing over the next year. Check back here often to find out the latest information.
Casino flyover video
Crain's Detroit article
Lansing State Journal article
The Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship
Study on the impact of casinos