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Michigan gets its first slot machines at new casino

Despite its flagging economy, FireKeepers Casino representatives are looking forward to the success of Michigan's newest gambling venue.

The 107,000-square-foot casino, not far from Battle Creek, is on course to open in early August and with modest red-carpet ceremony, the first of 2,680 slot machines were unloaded from semis yesterday.

Spread across 78 acres along Interstate 94 in Emmett Township, The 1,000-member Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians owns the casino.

"Certainly we'd rather open in a booming economy than a down economy, but given our demographics here, our market, our location right on I-94 and the 50- to 100-mile zone that we have before we run into competition - and also given what the propensity to gaming here is in Michigan - I think we're going to do just fine," commented R. Bruce McKee, FireKeepers' general manager.

This casino will mark the state's 19th tribal casino although three non-tribal casinos operate in Detroit.

Based on state taxes, slot revenues at tribal casinos seemed to rise from 2007 to 2008, according to Michigan Gaming Control Board records. But figures are somewhat misleading as the Four Winds Casino Resort near New Buffalo was open just a few months of 2007.

"Even though there have been devastating effects economically to the state, this sort of entertainment still is a source of revenue for the state," said Laura Spurr, chairwoman of the Nottawaseppi Huron tribe.
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