We’ve Identified The Retail Casino That Settles The “Up North” Debate In Michigan

Written By Drew Ellis on June 5, 2023
Up North casinos in Michigan

One of the most intense debates in Michigan throughout my lifetime has been “What is Up North?

Everyone has their thoughts and theories just about the dividing line of the North.

Some believe it to be where I-75 and US 127 meet.

Some believe it’s Gaylord or Traverse City.

Heck, even some lunatics think it’s just the Upper Peninsula.

Thankfully the answer is pretty simple and one particular Michigan retail casino helps set the boundary.

Where “Up North” starts in Michigan

A lot of you think you know the answer, but a lot of you are wrong.

It’s been sitting right in front of your eyes this whole time, but you’ve chosen to ignore it.

Back in my college days, now 20-some years ago, I attended Central Michigan University (Fire Up Chips!).

The key word there being “Central.”

Central Michigan University is located in Mount Pleasant. It is called Central Michigan University for a valid reason. That reason is because it is the central location of the mitten. Dead center, bullseye.

Scholars tell us that if you have a center point, it divides a shape into a top half and bottom half.

That means that anything north of Mt. Pleasant is officially “Up North.” It’s simple math.

Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort starts Northern Michigan casinos

Located in Mount Pleasant is the state’s largest retail casino, Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort.

It is the perfect landmark to officially begin just where “Up North” starts.

I know in the previous section I talked about Mount Pleasant being the center of the Lower Peninsula, and that is true. But, Soaring Eagle is on the northern edge of the city, so it qualifies.

To be fair, Soaring Eagle Slot Palace is across the street, but just a little south, so I will concede that the Slot Palace is below the cut line if it will please the court.

Conveniently located near the US-127 highway, Soaring Eagle welcomes its guests to the North and merrily sends them on their way.

Consider it a welcome center to the North. With its vast inventory of slots and table games (over 3,500), it’s dining options, regular schedule of concerts, and beautiful golf courses within an earshot, Mount Pleasant is definitely the introduction to what lies ahead.

Altogether, the state has 17 of its 26 retail casinos located in the “North.”

Northern Lower Peninsula casinos in Michigan

If limiting your ventures in the North below Mackinac Bridge, there’s seven retail casinos to consider.

  • Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort: Mount Pleasant
  • Saganing Eagles Landing Casino & Hotel: Standish
  • Little River Casino Resort: Manistee
  • Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel: Williamsburg
  • Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge: Peshawbestown
  • Odawa Casino: Petoskey
  • Odawa Casino: Mackinaw City

Some of you out there might believe that Soaring Eagle, Saganing Eagles Landing and Little River don’t make the cut for “Up North” because they are below the 127-75 merger. You’d be wrong.

Upper Peninsula Casinos in Michigan

The Mackinac Bridge might as well serve as The Wall from Game of Thrones.

Anything north of the bridge is definitely getting to another level of Northern Michigan. Life is a little different past that point.

Still, Winterfell was south of The Wall and it carried the moniker of “The North Remembers.”

But, I’ll stop driving home my accurate point that the Upper Peninsula is not the start of “Up North” in Michigan. I’m just rubbing it in at this point.

What the U.P. is, is the home to the most retail casinos in the state. A total of 10 are located in the northern most part of Michigan. Each location is surrounded by beaches from the Great Lakes and nature trails full of beautiful views this time of year.

Here’s a look at all the casino offerings in the Upper Peninsula.

  • Kewadin Casino: Hessel
  • Kewadin Casino: Sault Ste. Marie
  • Kewadin Casino: St. Igance
  • Bay Mills Resort & Casino: Brimley
  • Kewadin Casino: Manistique
  • Kewadin Casino: Christmas
  • Island Resort & Casino: Harris
  • Ojibwa Casino: Marquette
  • Ojibwa Casino: Baraga
  • Northern Waters Casino Resort: Watersmeet

So, if you are looking to head “Up North” this summer, you now know just what that means: Mount Pleasant or bust!

Photo by Shutterstock.com
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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