The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians announced detailed plans for its proposed Four Winds South Bend casino in Indiana on December 7 but surprisingly the 18 storey hotel with 500 rooms was not part of the final plans even though it was included in the initial casino proposal.
The proposed casino is being developed on 166 acres of land and construction work on the project has already started. More than 700 part time construction jobs will be created as a result of the Four Winds South Bend casino and an additional 1,200 full time jobs once the casino is fully operational. The casino is expected to be completed by during the first half of 2018 and based on the success of its operations, the tribe will consider adding more phases to the casino resort.
The South Bend casino is bigger than the Four Winds casinos in Dowagiac and Hartford but not as big as the New Buffalo casino. The gaming floor at the New Buffalo casino is 140,000 square feet and the gaming floor at the South Bend casino is just 55,000 square feet. The new casino does not have a license to offer table games such as poker, blackjack, craps and roulette. The casino will only be able to offer video and slot machine games to patrons as it was unable to successfully negotiate a Class III gaming compact with the state of Indiana.
The South Bend casino will be the first tribal casino in the state of Indiana and since Governor Mike Pence’s team were not very certain about tribal gaming, they were unable to agree on a gaming compact. However the Potawatomi Indian tribe plans to work with Governor-Elect Eric Holcomb, the lieutenant governor to Pence and see if they can negotiate a compact in 2018, which is when the casino is scheduled to open.
The first phase of the casino will include the opening of four restaurants, three bars, a retail store, a coffee shop and a gaming floor that will have 1,8000 Class II electronic gaming machines. Phase 1 also includes a parking facility that can accommodate up to 4,500 vehicles and 3,000 of these parking spots will be located indoor.
The city of South Bend will not only benefit from the employment opportunities that the Four Winds casino will create but will also benefit from its donations. In a statement, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said “In terms of the revenue sharing, we set a ($2 million annual) minimum because we didn’t want the city to be vulnerable to what order they did things when.Obviously it’s their decision what to do when and in what order, we just wanted to make sure that we knew there was going to be benefit to the city from day one”.
The South Bend casino will also donate an additional $5 million over a 5 year period to a number of local charities including the Memorial Children’s Hospital and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.