Table games now open at South Bend tribal casino

Kokomo Perspective

The four state-regulated casinos in Northwest Indiana now have a full-fledged competitor in the tribal casino located in South Bend.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi last week began offering 16 table games between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. daily at its Four Winds Casino, including blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette, and various house-banked poker games.

The tribal casino also is in process of switching over its 1,400 bingo-based slot machines to standard slots where the outcome of each spin is determined by a random number generator.

The addition of table games and Class III slot machines at Four Winds was made possible by a Tribal-State Gaming Compact inked in January by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Pokagon Chairman Matthew Wesaw, approved in April by the Indiana General Assembly in House Enrolled Act 1055, and allowed to go into effect by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Under the compact, Four Winds can offer any gambling game permitted at state-regulated casinos. Though mobile sports wagering, and any other electronic gaming eventually permitted in Indiana, is limited to the 166 acres of tribal property in South Bend.

Federal law prohibits the state from taxing the tribal casino similar to a commercial casino, which in Indiana can range from 15% to 40% of "win," or casino revenue after paying successful bettors.

However, the tribe agreed in the compact to pay 8% of its slot machine win to Indiana, compared to 6% in Michigan, in exchange for an exclusivity agreement that, in essence, freezes state gaming law within 50 miles of the Four Winds Casino, including in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.

Holcomb and state gaming regulators on Thursday joined Wesaw and other Pokagon leaders to cut the ribbon on the new casino games at Four Winds, which also is constructing a 23-story hotel tower adjacent to the 140,000-square foot casino.

"It's a great day to be Pokagon and we are very excited for what the future holds," Wesaw said. "Not only is Class III gaming in Indiana a historic and important milestone for the Pokagon Band and our Four Winds Casinos, but the expansion of Four Winds South Bend will create numerous additional economic benefits with the state of Indiana and the city of South Bend."

Frank Freedman, Four Winds chief operating officer, said the new gaming offerings and casino amenities take the South Bend guest experience "to another level" and provide a "premium resort-style feel" similar to the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan.

"We are very excited for this next phase of development and appreciate all of the hard work and dedication of all Four Winds employees to help us reach this important milestone," Freedman said.

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