Tribe and state government reach an agreement in treaty dispute
A Native American tribe in west Michigan has agreed to share revenue from its casino with the state as part of a dispute over online Lottery games.
The Gun Lake tribe says the state broke a treaty when it started online lottery games. As a result, the tribe stopped half of its revenue sharing payments.
Instead of sending the usual payments to the state, the tribe put them in an escrow account that will now be divided between the two.
Zeke Fletcher is the general counsel for the Gun Lake Tribe. He says the agreement is a temporary fix, but talks between the two groups is going well.
“This agreement is evidence that things are going well and things are progressing,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have a very strong relationship with state governor and the state government overall.”
Fletcher says negotiations will continue as the parties work on an amendment to the treaty.
While the two sides were working through the dispute, more than $22 million was sitting in an escrow account. Both sides agreed to split the money set aside by the tribe when the dispute began.
Jeremy Hendges is the chief deputy director for the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development.
He says the temporary fix keeps both sides moving forward.
“The partial settlement agreement actually works out an issue with the tribe to let some of those dollars flow forward in a manner agreed on by both parties while discussions continue,” he said.
Half of the money set aside by the tribe will go to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The tribe itself will receive 35 percent and 15 percent will go to GLIMI, an organization for non-gaming economic development with tribe and state oversight.
The tribe also plans to create an endowment for financial assistance to tribal students and area high school graduates with their portion of money.