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Sault Tribe sells piece of Detroit Casino - $200 million?

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians has sold a 22 percent interest in its Detroit Greektown casino to a Detroit-area man for a reported $200 million. The buyer is Tom Celani, a former investor in the MotorCity Casino.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians has sold a 22 percent interest in its Detroit Greektown casino to a Detroit-area man for a reported $200 million.

The buyer is Tom Celani, a former investor in the MotorCity Casino.

Celani played a major role in bringing gaming to Detroit, serving as treasurer for a statewide ballot initiative that established the Motor City's three gambling establishments.

He will run Greektown's casino operations.

The following announcement was issued today by Greektown Casino:

************************* Greektown Casino announces equity partner Noted businessman Tom Celani purchasing stake in casino

DETROIT, February 1 - Tom Celani, a noted Metro Detroit businessman with two decades of national gaming industry experience, will acquire a significant equity position in Greektown Casino, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced today.

Celani and the Tribe have asked Michigan gaming regulators to approve his purchase of a 22-percent ownership interest in Greektown Casino.

The move is designed to enhance casino management and boost Greektown's financial strength relative to its market competitors.

The Sault Tribe remains majority owner of the casino.

"Tom Celani is a highly respected businessman with significant successful experiences in multiple gaming enterprises and other industries," said Greektown Casino Management Board Chairman Tom Miller, an elected member of the Sault Tribe board of directors. "This transaction adds significant competitive muscle to Greektown Casino. It boosts Greektown Casino's management capabilities and financial position in the market, and it benefits the Sault Tribe, the City of Detroit, and the state."

Miller noted that before Greektown Casino opened in November 2000, the Sault Tribe shared equal ownership of the casino with a group of Detroit developers and community leaders.

"This moves the casino's ownership structure closer to what was in place prior to the opening of Greektown Casino, when the Sault Tribe had a significant equity partner," Miller said.

In addition to his ownership stake, Celani will become president of casino operations and use his management team position, board seat and two decades of successful gaming industry experience to benefit Greektown Casino, its guests and 2,100 team members.

"The Greektown property by far has the best location in the Detroit gaming market, and I'm thrilled to be part of the ownership and management team," Celani said. "Now that we have improved our parking and we will be opening our new hotel and expanded gaming space in the fall, we will compete nicely with the other three casinos in the market."

Celani, 51, of Bloomfield Hills, has achieved success in many industries and business ventures.

In 1988 he co-founded Sodak Gaming Inc., which sold electronic gaming devices to Native American casinos and was eventually purchased by IGT.

In 1995, he partnered with a Michigan Indian tribe to develop Little River Casino Resort in Manistee.

He also has successfully developed and managed Indian casinos in California and Oklahoma as well as commercial casinos in Nevada and Colorado.

In 1996, he and the Sault Tribe spearheaded the passage of Proposal E, the Michigan ballot question that led to the development of the three Detroit casinos.

Celani also develops commercial and residential properties in various states.

He owns two retail motorcycle dealerships: Motor City Harley-Davidson in Farmington Hills and Motor City Power Sports in Bloomfield Hills.

He also operates Celani Family Vineyards, a Napa Valley producer of high-end cabernet and chardonnay.

In November, Greektown Casino opened its new attached parking structure, marking the completion of Phase 1 on the new permanent Greektown Casino and hotel.

Phase 2 of the new permanent casino and hotel -construction of the casino's new 400-room hotel and expanded gaming floor - is scheduled to be done in fall 2008.

The permanent casino and hotel will include a multi-purpose theater, buffet, three restaurants, and 25,000 square feet of additional gaming space.

The total investment in the permanent Greektown Casino project will be about $500 million when it is complete.

Located at 555 E. Lafayette Avenue in Detroit's Greektown Entertainment District, Greektown Casino features more than 2,500 slot machines and more than 90 table games in 75,000 square feet of luxurious Mediterranean-themed gaming space.

Greektown Casino opened on Nov. 10, 2000.

Readers of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press have voted Greektown Casino Michigan's and Detroit's "Best Casino" numerous times.

In addition, Greektown Casino also placed first in other categories in The News' reader survey, including "Best Slots," "Best Wait Staff Outfits," "Best Craps Tables," "Best Blackjack Tables," "Best High Rollers Area," "Best Casino Restaurant," and "Best Casino Entertainment."


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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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