Today, the Gun Lake Tribe announced the ten-year anniversary of the Gun Lake Casino.
The Tribe released findings of a new economic impact report dating back to the Casino’s public opening on February 10, 2011. To date, the Tribe has invested $415 million into the Casino, while directly paying $502 million in wages. In total, the Casino generated $2.8 billion to Michigan’s economy in the last ten years.
“This is a proud milestone for the Gun Lake Tribe, our team members, and the supporters in this community who played an integral role in Gun Lake Casino becoming a reality,” said Tribal Chairman Bob Peters. “As illustrated in the ten-year economic impact report we released today, the Casino provided $2.8 billion to Michigan’s economy in the last ten years. We intend to protect this economic engine for many more years to come.”
The Casino directly employees nearly 1,000 team members in gaming operations while paying out approximately $55 million in annual wages. Over the last ten years the Casino directly paid over $410 million in wages. During this time, the Casino purchased over $285 million in goods and services from Michigan-based vendors. Most of that spending occurs locally in West Michigan.
“It is gratifying to celebrate Gun Lake Casino’s 10th anniversary. We are extremely thankful for all of our guests and team members – whom have supported our mission over the past decade,” said Sal Semola, president and COO for Gun Lake Casino. “As we move into the future, I look forward to maintaining our reputation as an economic mainstay in the local community.”
Construction is currently underway on a $100 million expansion that will bring the Casino to 228,000 square feet. The Tribe has now invested $415 million into the property. The current expansion will add more gaming space and entertainment options along with two additional upscale restaurants.
In the last ten years, the Tribe has shared over $150 million in revenue with state and local governments, schools, law enforcement, and civic organizations. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation received over $98 million. The local revenue sharing board which administers local distributions received over $35 million in ten years.
While the economic benefits of employment, vendor spending, and revenue sharing is evident; the path for the Gun Lake Tribe to achieve self-sufficiency while creating a positive economic impact was not without many hurdles. The Tribe spent about 10 years prior to opening the Gun Lake Casino fighting to pursue its federal right to economic development under the law.
During that period, the Tribe won many hard-fought battles in the federal courts, including two separate trips to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Tribe willingly engaged the public in a dialogue to explain why it was pursuing a casino in its historic home community of Bradley. The local community organized a support group called Friends of the Gun Lake Indians (FOGLI) that grew to over 10,000 area residents.
“The tribal community persevered through many difficult setbacks before opening the Gun Lake Casino,” said John Shagonaby, Governmental Affairs Officer, and former CEO of the Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority. “We will never forget how hard we had to fight for our legal right to economic self-sufficiency. This has allowed us to acquire more of our homelands where we are proud to build a brighter future for our citizens.”