Ribbon-cutting at the Gun Lake Casino’s expansion opening in May 2017. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert.
Published February 8, 2018
BRADLEY, MICHIGAN – The Gun Lake Casino’s management agreement with Station Casinos, based in Las Vegas, came to an end on February 6, 2018. Station Casinos has managed the Gun Lake Casino, located half-way between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, since its opening in February 2011.
Scott Sprague, chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe
The Gun Lake Tribe says the contract expired pursuant to federal Indian gaming law which limits the term of management contracts to seven years.
“This is a significant milestone because we are taking another step toward complete self-sufficiency as a tribal government,” said Scott Sprague, Tribal Chairman. “We appreciate the relationship with Station Casinos as it enabled us to open a professional gaming operation from day one. We also gained valuable knowledge and experience that we will use to continue our success.”
The Tribe diligently prepared to assume casino management responsibility for many years. A comprehensive transition plan had been developed dating back to the 2011 opening of the Casino. A more detailed plan has been implemented over the last few years which focused on operational personnel and technology.
A key step in the transition occurred when the Tribe hired Sal Semola as President & Chief Operating Officer of Gun Lake Casino. President Semola has brought over 40 years of experience in the gaming and hospitality industry working throughout the United States at numerous successful tribal and commercial properties.
President Semola came on board October 2017 to finalize the transition of the Tribe assuming operational control by providing a seamless transition in all areas of management of the Casino, and working on the master plan.
“It has been a pleasure working with the Gun Lake Tribe on the management of the Gun Lake Casino for the last seven years, and we wish them the best of success going forward,” said Richard J. Haskins, President of Station Casinos LLC.
In addition to Station Casinos’ management expertise, three individuals from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan contributed to the management of the Casino. Sid Smith, Bart LaBelle and Jim Fabiano were early investors in the Casino. Their support played a key role in the development of the Casino.
The Casino currently has over 1,000 team members. The Tribe has shared over $100 million with state and local governments over 14 separate distributions since the Casino opened in 2011.