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Beginning of Indian Casinos in Michigan

In the early 1980s long-term economic problems on Indian reservations led several Michigan Indian tribes to seek tribal revenue and jobs for tribal members by opening large-scale bingo operations. Several tribes considered moving beyond bingo halls and opening Las Vegas style casinos. But casinos clearly violated state law. Like most states in this period, Michigan banned virtually all forms of gaming. In Michigan the state allowed only the state lottery, authorized by the voters in 1972, bingo, betting at horse races, and a variety of casino-like activities used by charitable organizations at so-called "Las Vegas" night fundraisers. In the early 1980s casino gambling was illegal in Michigan, as it was in every state except Nevada.

Eventually an individual tribal member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian tribe, Fred Dakota, personally challenged the state's right to regulate Indian gaming. In January 1984 Dakota opened a casino named "The Pines," that consisted of a lone blackjack table located in his two-car garage. Dakota's personal action was quickly followed by the Bay Mills Indian Band, which opened the first tribal-sanctioned casino in the state on July 4, 1984 in Brimley. Later in 1984, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa opened a casino in Peshawbestow. In the years immediately following casinos were opened by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Council (Baraga, opened 1985), the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa Indians (St. Ignace, opened 1985), Hannahville Potawatomi (Near Harris, 1985), Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (Mount Pleasant, card games introduced into Bingo Hall, 1985), and the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Watersmeet, 1987)