Indiana and Four Winds Casino tribal operators closer to gaming expansion agreement


"Negotiations are in a very late stage but there is not currently an executed compact," said Sara Tait, executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission.

If the state and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which operates theFour Winds tribal casino in South Bend, reach an agreement on a tribal gaming compact, that would allow the Pokagons to offer Class III gaming in South Bend and replace its slot machine-like Class II bingo devices with traditional slot machines, as well as add table games with dealers, a sports book and potentially a mobile sports wagering application, The Times reports.

Under Indiana law, a compact must be negotiated between the governor and the tribe, and approved by the General Assembly, before going to the U.S. Department of the Interior for final ratification.

The Pokagons initiated negotiations on a gaming compact in August 2019. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed Tait to represent the state in the negotiations. Both sides suggested a deal could be reached in the next few weeks, giving the General Assembly plenty of time to consider the proposal during its four-month session that begins Jan. 4.

In Michigan, the tribe has a gaming compact in place with the state that requires 6% of net "win," or revenue after paying successful bets, go to state economic development programs, and an additional 2% be distributed to local governments.

The tribe already has been paying 2% of its Indiana win to the city of South Bend, or a minimum of $1 million a year. South Bend has allocated half the revenue to its general fund and half to the city's redevelopment commission.

In comparison, non-tribal Indiana casinos pay a graduated wagering tax that ranges between 15% and 40% of win — significantly higher than what the tribe pays to Michigan.

 According to the Indiana Gaming Commission, federal law does not permit the state to directly tax a tribal casino. But revenue sharing is permitted in a gaming compact under specific circumstances that result in "quantifiable economic benefits" to the tribe, such as no in-county competition from a state-licensed casino.

The Pokagons are the only federally recognized Indian tribe in the Hoosier State and this is the first gaming compact being negotiated for Indiana.