Construction continues on the Four Winds Casino in South Bend, Indiana. Photo: Construction Cam

Pokagon Band not in a rush to negotiate Class III gaming compact for new facility

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is on track to open a new casino in a matter of months but don't expect slot machines at other Class III games there.

That's because the tribe hasn't negotiated a gaming compact with the state of Indiana. And leaders aren't in a rush to do so, according to The Indianapolis Star, despite the historic nature of the forthcoming Four Winds Casino in South Bend.

"It's the first time in 200 years in Indiana that they actually have Indian country," Chairman John P. Warren told the paper. "And we're very proud of that."

Slot machines, table games and related Class III offerings are extremely lucrative. But states typically demand a cut of the revenues in exchange for negotiating a compact -- in Michigan, the tribe has shared $51.4 million with local governments since 2007, according to a Sepember 2016 report.

Despite lacking a deal with the state of Indiana, the tribe adopted a similar approach with the city of South Bend. An agreement promises 2 percent of the net win from Four Winds, along with other monetary concessions, The Star reported.

But if the tribe tried to negotiate a compact, politicians are likely to erect hurdles. Some lawmakers whose districts include non-Indian gaming facilities have been openly hostile to an agreement, expressing stereotypical and even "racist" views about Indian people.

As a result, a new state law requires state legislative approval of any Class III compact. House Bill 1540 went into effect even though then-governor Mike Pence (R) -- now the vice president of the United States -- declined to sign it.

A spokesman for Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) told The Star that it would be "premature" to talk about compact negotiations. So the casino in South Bend will only feature Class II games unless the situation changes before it's expected debut in January 2018.

Read More on the Story:
What Indiana's first tribal casino — the Four Winds in South Bend — means for the state (The Indianapolis Star August 26, 2017)

Federal Register Notices:
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan and Indiana (November 29, 2016)
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Fee-to-Trust Transfer for Tribal Village and Casino, City of South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana (March 12, 2015)
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Pokagon Band Tribal Village Fee-to-Trust Acquisition and Casino Project in the City of South Bend, St. Joseph County, IN (August 24, 2012)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Pokagon Band on track to open first gaming facility in Indiana in January 2018 (August 22, 2017)
Pokagon Band on hiring spree as first tribal casino in Indiana takes shape (July 24, 2017)
Pokagon Band expects to open gaming facility in Indiana in early 2018 (July 13, 2017)
Pokagon Band secures approval for alcohol ordinance in Indiana (November 29, 2016)
Pokagon Band secures historic approval to restore homeland in Indiana (November 23, 2016)
Pokagon Band debuts expansion of gaming facility in Michigan (July 22, 2016)
Pokagon Band sees major progress on casino project in Indiana (June 21, 2016)