A federal judge Friday approved a $79 million settlement of an
Indian tribe’s nearly 7-year-old lawsuit against operators of two of the
city’s three casinos.
The decision clears the way for a higher court to lift its court order
blocking the casinos from expanding at new, permanent locations. In
exchange, the casinos will pay $39.5 million each to the Lac Vieux
Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, which operates its own
casino in the Upper Peninsula village of Watersmeet.
A separate out-of-court deal with two former casino investors will bring
the tribe an additional $15 million, for a total of $94 million. There
are 430 tribe members; lawyers’ fees have not yet been estimated.
"This is certainly good news, not only for the tribe but for the city as
well," said tribe lawyer Conley Schulte. "It’s been a very long road."
Friday’s ruling leaves unsettled the tribe’s effort to overturn the
franchise of Detroit’s third casino, the MGM Grand Detroit Casino. The
tribe is seeking a chance to bid for the franchise now held by MGM.
The casinos and the tribe have been locked in a legal battle that began
a year after voters approved casino gambling in the city.