The Gun Lake Casino in Michigan is set to open its new expansion on May 3rd amidst some controversy. Recently, The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge regarding the tribe’s rights to the 147 acres the casino is built upon. This is not the first challenge that the Gun Lake Tribe has faced in this regard.
Gun Lake Casino has been in operation since February of 2011 and its most recent $76 million expansion is the first upgrade to take place at the facility since its opening. The expansion brings an additional 73,000 square feet, which nearly doubles the size the casino at its original opening. With it comes a new buffet with 300 seats, including a large stage for entertainment. Aside from the new buffet, the expansion will include space for more table games and gaming machines. Construction for the project began early last year and brought 300 to 400 temporary jobs to the area. 100 permanent positions were created and filled within the last few months.
Although things seemed to be looking up for the Gun Lake Tribe, they now have to prepare for a Supreme Court decision following the announcement made on Monday to hear a case regarding their right to the land. The challenge brought by David Patchak makes the claim that the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers. On Monday May 1st the U.S. Supreme Court granted the case “certiorari,” which means the case will be heard next term.
Patchak’s challenge dates back almost a decade ago, when he decided to sue the Bureau of Indian Affairs in an attempt to prevent the opening of the Gun Lake Casino. Patchak lives just three miles from the casino and claimed the casino traffic would lower his property value. He also expressed his concerns about a potential rise in crime and pollution the casino could bring.
The last movement for the case came in 2012, right before the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act was signed, preventing any court challenge. Through the years, Patchak has remained diligent in pursuing his case against the casino and it looks as if his efforts could still pay off. Scott Gant, Patchak’s lawyer, expressed his satisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decision, admitting the difficulty in earning certiorari in any case.
Tribal officials, however, seem unfazed by the threat of Patchak’s challenge. In an interview with Michigan Live, Chairman Scott Sprague said, “The Tribe is eager to argue the merits of the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act before the U.S. Supreme Court.”