Recently, the Gun Lake Tribe commissioned a study through the Innovation Group to measure its impact on the Michigan economy.
The results show the Gun Lake Tribe and all of its businesses contributed $1.5 billion to the Michigan economy over the last seven years.
Bob Peters, chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe, commented on the findings:
“We are proud to have contributed $1.5 billion to Michigan’s economy in the last seven years through the construction and operation of our gaming and government facilities, and non-gaming business activities. Each year, this aggregate economic activity supports over 2,600 jobs and pumps $228 million into the state’s economy.”
How the Tribe impacts the Michigan economy
The Gun Lake Tribe opened its casino in February 2011, and it began having an impact on the local economy almost immediately. The budget for the construction of the Gun Lake Casino and other facilities was $236 million. It created 1,439 construction jobs and contributed $142 million to the state’s economy.
Since then, goods and services purchased from Michigan-based companies by the tribe add up to $36 million every year. “The indirect and induced employment impact added to direct employment results in an annual total of 2,491 jobs that equates to an annual payroll of $99 million,” an announcement about the study states.
The tribe employs 1,281 people in all areas of its businesses including governmental positions, gaming offerings and investment operations. It produces an annual payroll of more than $48 million.
Additionally, its indirect impact is equally as impressive. The tribe purchases goods and services from Michigan-based businesses to the tune of $36 million per year.
The study estimates that “the indirect and induced employment impact added to direct employment results in an annual total of 2,491 jobs that equates to an annual payroll of $99 million.”
The tribe’s impact may explain its influence
Michigan bill H 4926, the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, currently sits in the state Senate hoping for a miracle in the next few weeks. Even if it passes, sports betting will require additional legislation in 2019.
The reason for the additional legislation is in part due to the lack of support from Michigan’s tribal casinos.
Rep. Brandt Iden sought support for the bill from both Detroit’s commercial casinos and the tribal casinos. However, their interests are a bit in conflict.
The tribes do not currently have the authority in their compacts to expand their gaming offerings. If the bill passes the Michigan Senate and the governor signs the law, the tribes will have to renegotiate their agreements. It could put the tribes at a distinct disadvantage to the commercial casinos.
As such, the tribes want the commercial casinos to wait to launch online gaming and sports betting or cease operations until the tribes can operate under the same conditions.
In the past, Iden calls this the “poison pill.”
Of course, commercial casinos want to be able to offer online gaming and sports betting even if state compacts or federal law prevents the tribes from doing so.
Of course, it might all be moot. The legislature is set to adjourn Dec. 20. The bill dies if it does not pass the Senate by then. That means a whole new law will need to be introduced if Michigan wants to launch online gaming in 2019.
The impact study came at the just right time to remind Michigan legislators of the importance of tribal gaming and its business interests to state’s economy.