Pokagon Band faces hurdles in plan to develop casino in Indiana

John Warren, at podium, serves as chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Photo from Facebook

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians wants to build the first tribal casino in Indiana but some politicians there don't like the idea.

A land-into-trust application submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs includes a casino, hotel, housing and other developments in South Bend. Class III gaming would require a compact, something that hasn't happened in the state before.

To address that possibility, lawmakers passed House Bill 1540 to authorize Gov. Mike Pence (R) to enter into negotiations for a compact. The tribe, however, believes the law interferes with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act because it dictates what "must" be included in any agreement.

Pence, who previously said he opposes an "expansion of gaming", allowed the law to take effect without his signature on May 8. He then left the state for an eight-day trip to China and hasn't responded to press inquiries, NUVO reported.

The bill allows non-Indian riverboat casinos to establish land operations. The main sponsors represent counties with riverboat facilities.

"You have to realize, of 150 legislators, there's a lot of gaming interests," Pokagon Chairman John Warren told WNDU last month.

The BIA, meanwhile, continues to work on the environmental impact statement for the 166-acre project in South Bend. There's no timeline for a decision.

Get the Story:
Tribal casinos in Indiana? (NUVO 5/27)

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