The development of a casino and tribal village will be actively supported by the city of South Bend in exchange for community investment and revenue sharing. Also part of the agreement, the city has agreed not to support or encourage future casino gambling in the city, and to oppose any attempts at gaming expansion beyond those that are already permitted under state law.

The provisions are part of the agreement between the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the city for the proposed development near Rum Village for a $400 million casino, hotel, and tribal village on 166 acres of land located southwest of downtown. The agreement was announced by the band and the city on Wednesday, March 23, but at the time a copy of the agreement wasn’t available, according to the South Bend Tribune.

On Monday, a resolution approving the agreement will be considered by the Common Council. The Gaming Authority Board and the Pokagon Band Tribal Council have already approved the agreement. Without actually endorsing it, a resolution was previously passed by the council, which recognized the “significant potential benefits” of the project by a 7-0 vote.

In 2012, the Pokagons’ submitted a “fee-to-trust” application to the Department of the Interior, which asks that land be taken into trust by the federal government for the benefit of the tribe. The project hinges on the approval of that application. As part of the agreement, a letter “and other pertinent documents” were to be submitted to the Secretary of the Interior by the city “expressing support for” the application, which the Bureau of Indian Affairs is currently reviewing. Other terms were also agreed upon, including the reimbursement by the band to the city of any costs occurred supporting the project.

In exchange for the city agreeing to “actively oppose” efforts to expand gaming and not to endorse any other type of gaming, with the exception of those already allowed by state law, the band agreed that annual “payment in lieu of taxes” will be made to South Bend equal to 2 percent of the casino’s net winnings. The Pokagons’ will also donate $5 million to various community initiatives and projects.

Details such as these, along with many more provisions, reveal the extent of the support the city must provide to the proposed casino and tribal village to protect the financial interests of the band, in exchange for financial support. The agreement was described by Mayor Pete Buttigieg as a “big win for the city,” in a recent letter to council members. The agreement will be considered by the council at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. at the County-City Building in downtown South Bend, Indiana.

One Response

  1. Steven Norton

    The Pokagon Tribe is a recognized Tribe in Michigan, with Federally recognized reservations in that State. But it appears that they do not have a recognized reservation in Indiana. Our understanding is that the Tribe has an appeal pending with the Federal Government to put South Bend land “in trust”. But we have watched the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts take years to get approval for trust land, even though the State supported the development of a casino in Taunton. But in Indiana, with casinos performance suffering from new competition in Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky, will the state support the Tribe’s effort in South Bend?

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