Sault Tribe not happy about $88.8M Ruling for Casino Damages

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians sought relief from a recent court decision awarding $88.8 million in damages to investors misled by the tribe’s false promises.

An Ingham County Circuit judge found the Kewadin Casinos Gaming Authority guilty of misrepresentation after it failed to meet its contractual obligations with the parties involved in developing the planned Romulus and Lansing casino projects. Dissatisfied with the court’s decision, the tribe will appeal for relief and appeal if necessary.

The Kewadin Casinos Gaming Authority initially sought to establish several new permanent and temporary casinos in Lansing and New Boston. Since the land was off-reservation, the tribe would first need to bring the properties into trust. The Authority ensured investors that the process would be straightforward, and developers contributed $8.8 million.

However, the development suffered delays after the US Department of the Interior refused to issue its approval as the tribe lacked sufficient evidence to place the land into trust. Sault Tribe then had the opportunity to present additional proof that the purchases would benefit tribal properties. According to the court’s latest ruling, that never happened, effectively scuttling the entire project to the detriment of investors and developers.

The adversely affected parties first sought legal action in March 2021, attempting to reclaim their loans and investments. The tribe’s attorneys invoked sovereign immunity multiple times, but all their appeals got rejected. The Authority now has to pay $88.8 million, including principal and interest on the original loans, and $75 million in lost revenue from the planned casinos.

The Tribe Hopes for a Better Outcome

Two weeks after the court’s final ruling, the Sault Tribe officially appealed for relief. A press release on the tribe’s official website mentioned that the case would now be in the hands of a Grewal Law PLLC as they had severed ties with the previous legal advisor. Sault Tribe Chairman Austin Lowes expressed concern, hoping that new legal council would lead to a positive outcome.

The Sault Tribe is deeply concerned with what it has discovered in reading the Court’s opinion.

Austin Lowes, Sault Tribe Chairman

The Sault Tribe intends to bring the matter to the Michigan Court of Appeals if its relief pleas fall on deaf ears. Such a substantial fine would be a significant blow to the 44,000-strong community. The tribe’s board of directors continues to have expressed its intention to pursue economic opportunities to benefit its members. However, the court’s findings amidst the growing debacle have put those claims to the test.


Sault Tribe Cries Out against $88.8M Ruling for Casino Damages