Big Upgrades at Michigan Casinos: Rebranding, New Hotels & More
Indian Country Today
At least five of the 23 Class III casinos in Michigan are undergoing major changes this year, or recently celebrated an expansion.
Michigan is home to 12 gaming tribes that run 23 casino-resort destinations scattered across its upper and lower peninsulas. Massive additions and aesthetic upgrades are underway, or were recently unveiled, at five, if not more, of the state’s tribally owned gaming attractions. From hotel towers to high-limit rooms to dining options, and even a name change, get the scoop:
1) Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort: $26.5 Million Renovation
The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe is leading a $26.5 million renovation of Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, its flagship resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. One of the largest investment’s in Soaring Eagle’s 19-year history, the project will include the addition of a new sports bar and night club and a new high-limit and VIP lounge area. Renovations are scheduled to begin this fall and slated for completion in spring of 2018.
Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort, 6800 Soaring Eagle Blvd, Mt Pleasant, MI 48858, (989) 775-5777, soaringeaglecasino.com
2) Saganing Eagles Landing Casino
On June 30, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe also broke ground on an expansion at the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino, its smaller, sister facility in Standish. Now guests will have a place to stay the night; the project includes building a five-story, 148-room hotel. Among other additions are a full-service restaurant, additional square footage for retail space, and an increased gaming floor with accommodations for up to 400 additional slot machines. Construction was previously estimated to take 18 months with a grand opening slated for early 2019. Tribal officials declined to release the amount of the investment to mlive.com, but indicated the new business will create 200 new jobs and naturally dozens of temporary construction jobs.
“This expansion further solidifies our presence in our aboriginal territory and shows our commitment to the community and economic growth for the region,” Chief Frank Cloutier said in a press release.
Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, 2690 Worth Road, Standish, MI 48658, +1.888.732.4537, saganing-eagleslanding.com
3) Northern Waters Casino Resort: Rebranded
Owned and operated by the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Northern Waters Casino Resort is the rebranded, former Lac Vieux Desert Resort and Casino in Watersmeet in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan by Lake Superior. A ribbon-cutting was held on July 28 to commemorate the resort’s 21st birthday, along with renovations to the casino floor and hotel rooms, imbuing a warmer feel and more culturally relevant design. Additions include a sports bar and supper club, the latter anticipated to be completed in 18 months.
“The casino was built 20 years ago. They built it with a Las Vegas feel; neon, stark colors, lots of bright reds and yellows. We wanted to make it a more inviting, warmer feel,” casino general manager Gary Murrey, told WLUC TV6. “So we brought in the earth tones, we brought in the animals and the woods and embrace where we are from.”
Northern Waters Casino Resort features the 132-room Dancing Eagles Resort Hotel with indoor pool, spa and whirlpool, gift shop, restaurant, concession area/food court, sports bar and lounge, 18-hole Lac Vieux Desert Golf Course with pro shop and clubhouse, RV parking/campground, and meeting and event space.
Northern Waters Casino Resort, US-45, Watersmeet, MI 49969, 1-906-358-4226, lvdcasino.com
4) Ojibwa Casino Marquette: $36 Million Development
The Ojibwa Casino Marquette, owned and operated by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), is in the midst of a $36 million development at its Chocolay Township facility. The long-awaited project, located near the shores of Lake Superior, will see the casino floor double in size; add two signature restaurants, a 76-room hotel and a 1,200 square foot arena. Anticipated completion is September 2018.
Ojibwa Casino Marquette, 105 Acre Trail, Marquette, MI 49855, (906) 249-4200, ojibwacasino.com/marquette-location
5) Ojibwa Casino Baraga
Meanwhile, its sister property, Ojibwa Casino Baraga, is receiving a roughly $5 major interior facelift. Located near the intersection of US-41 and M-38, the facility will be adding new heating and cooling units and new active smoke eaters.
Renovations to the Baraga casino are expected to be completed by March 2018, while the Marquette facility is looking to have its expansion and remodel finished in December 2018.
Ojibwa Casino Baraga, 16449 Michigan Ave, Baraga, MI 49908, (906) 353-6333, ojibwacasino.com
5) Gun Lake Casino: $76 Million Expansion
In May, Gun Lake Casino in West Michigan cut the ribbon to commemorate its $76 million expansion, including Harvest Buffet, more gaming space, and a new Stage 131 bar.
Gun Lake Casino, which first opened its doors in February 2011, added an additional 73,000 square feet to hold the addition of nearly 500 slot machines for a grand total of 2,000 slot machines. The tribe also debuted its 300-seat Harvest Buffet, open for lunch, dinner, and special occasions, serving steak and crab legs. The casino’s updated Stage 131 bar is double the size of the former bar, and continues to play live, local music seven nights a week.
Come late summer and early fall, Gun Lake anticipates adding more table games, a high-limit room, and another bar. The casino, halfway between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, is owned by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians and is operated by the Tribe’s management partner, MPM Enterprises, LLC.
Gun Lake Casino, 1123 129th Ave, Wayland, MI 49348, (269) 792-7777, gunlakecasino.com
Twelve tribes operate 23 Class III casinos across Michigan, according to the 2016 Michigan Gaming Control Board Indian Gaming Annual Report to the Citizens of Michigan, submitted April 15, 2017, for calendar year 2016. They are the: Bay Mills Indian Community (2), Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (2), Hannahville Indian Community (1), Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) (2), Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (1), Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (1), Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (1), Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake, 1), Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (1), Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians (3), Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (3), Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (5).
Last year, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi completed significant additions to its FireKeepers Casino Hotel, including its multi-million dollar brewpub and restaurant: Dacey’s Taphouse, its expanded Café 24/7, and its new convenience store and gas station, “FireKeepers Pit Stop,” located adjacent to the casino.
FireKeepers Casino Hotel, 11177 E Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49014, (877) 352-8777, firekeeperscasino.com