Although the Department of Justice advised against doing so, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of the Bay Mills Indian Community. The tribe opened an off-reservation, 84-slot casino in Vanderbilt, Michigan in November 2010 but the state of Michigan sued to have it closed—which it was, by a federal judge in 2011, who stated the tribe opened the casino without permission from the U.S. government and in violation of a state compact.
The tribe purchased the casino property with funds received from the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1997. The 1997 federal law distributing money to Bay Mills and four other Michigan tribes stated land acquired with interest income by Bay Mills “shall be held as Indian lands are held.” Therefore, the tribe said a casino could be built on the land. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and on August 15, 2012, lifted the injunction. However, the casino has remained closed pending the outcome of current litigation. It’s located about 125 miles south of the Bay Mills reservation in the Upper Peninsula.
At issue in the case is whether or not Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has standing to sue the tribe. Schuette said he needs that authority to control the growing numbers of casinos in Michigan. Schuette said the ruling “sets the stage for an important discussion about the states’ ability to halt the unrestrained expansion of off-reservation tribal casino gambling.” The state has 23 Native American casinos.