Current Situation

In 1996 Detroit voters took a second step, authorizing three casinos within their city to be run by any group of investors who made the best offer for those licenses. Such a casino would violate the exclusivity clause found in the 1993 State Compact. If and when such a casino began operation the tribal governments could legally withhold their payments to the state's "Strategic Fund," although they would be required to continue to make payments to local units of government.

The change in sentiment by voters in Detroit regarding casinos may well have been influenced by the tremendous economic impact gaming has had on economically depressed Indian tribes. By way of example, in 1985 the Sault Ste. Marie band of Chippewa employed approximately 200 people with a tribal budget of $6.1 million. Eight years later in 1993, the same tribe, now with a vibrant casino, employed 2,000 individuals and had a $131 million tribal budget. By 1995 the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa had become the largest employer in Michigan upper peninsula. Other tribes that operate casinos have experienced similar dramatic increases in tribal budgets and number of tribal employees, making clear the potential economic impact of gaming.