Artist's rendering of proposed off-reservation casino in Fruitport Township, Michigan. Image: Little River Band

Little River Band still waiting for Bureau of Indian Affairs to make decision

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians saw major progress on a proposed off-reservation casino when the Bureau of Indian Affairs held a public hearing on the long-awaited project in December.

But that was before the government shutdown crippled the BIA for a record 35 days. The tribe now expects a decision in a few months, WZZM reported.

"So it could be June or July now," Ogema Larry Romanelli told the station.

The tribe is pursuing the casino under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. If the BIA approves, the state governor will have final say on the project.

Even if the tribe completes both steps, the BIA still has to make a decision on the land-into-trust application for the 60-acre site in Fruitport Township. But there's good news on that front -- Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, who has been tapped to lead the Department of the Interior said he is pulling the plug on the Fee-to-Trust Regulations (25 CFR 151).

“I have no interest in modifying our 151 regulations unless you want them changed so we are not going to go forward with that matter," Bernhardt told the National Congress of American Indians this month.

Tribes had criticized the proposed changes, saying they would have made it more difficult for them to acquire land away from existing reservations.

Read More on the Story
Fed's decision on slow-moving casino project likely delayed because of government shutdown (WZZM February 25, 2019)

Federal Register Notices
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Little River Band Trust Acquisition and Casino Project, Township of Fruitport, Muskegon County, Michigan (November 21, 2018)
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Fruitport Casino Project, Fruitport Township, Muskegon County, Michigan (September 21, 2015)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Public hearings set for two off-reservation casinos in Midwest (December 10, 2018)
Little River Band takes major step forward with casino bid (November 26, 2018)
Little River Band acquires land near off-reservation gaming site (March 3, 2016)
Little River Band hails BIA movement on off-reservation casino bid (02/04)
Editorial: Approve Little River Band off-reservation casino (11/16)
Little River Band might buy land by off-reservation gaming site (11/10)
Steve Pego: Michigan compact bars off-reservation casino (11/06)
Little River Band hopeful after off-reservation casino hearing (10/19)
Little River Band sees support for off-reservation casino bid (10/16)
Little River Band set for hearing on off-reservation casino bid (10/14)