The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa, which owns the Greektown Casino-Hotel, would be stripped of ownership under the only bankruptcy exit plan on the table, but the tribe is looking at its options. (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)
Detroit -- After more than a year, the Chapter 11 saga of bankrupt Greektown Casino-Hotel is moving toward conclusion, but the casino's owners aren't in for a happy ending.
Likely to be a victim of the casino's restructuring will be the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa, which also operates smaller gambling halls in the Upper Peninsula.
The only bankruptcy exit plan sitting before Judge Walter Shapero would strip the tribe of its ownership and award Greektown's primary creditor, Merrill Lynch, with majority control of Detroit's third-largest casino by revenue. Plans call for the casino to exit bankruptcy by September.
Bondholders and some other creditors would be left with nothing as well.
Roger Martin, a tribe spokesman, said the Sault's leaders are weighing their options for the casino, which in better times provided profits that funded educational, medical and elder-care programs for roughly 20,000 members in the state.
"The tribe will look at any options that will benefit its members and make sense in this business environment," Martin said.
The tribe initially put the casino into Chapter 11 on May 29 of last year.
Then, Greektown's hotel was mostly unfinished and its main contracting firm, Jenkins/Skanska, was threatening to walk off the job because of unpaid bills.
The bankruptcy bought the casino an opportunity to obtain debtor-in-possession financing to finish the hotel complex and expand the casino's playing area, a project that wrapped up in February.
But that ratcheted up the casino's debt load to more than $755 million.
With tight credit markets making exit financing difficult to find, Greektown's reorganization team started shopping the casino to potential buyers earlier this year, but Chuck Moore, a turnaround specialist working on the case, said the multiple bids that came in were too low.