INDIANAPOLIS – The state's newest casino could turn the industry on its head and cost the state millions in tax revenue.
The Four Winds Casino in South Bend – run by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians – is Indiana's first tribal casino, and doesn't have to pay gambling-related taxes or follow gaming laws imposed on other facilities. The freedom comes with federal protections given to Indians by Congress in the 1990s.
“They are good operators. They would be a rival with a level playing field, but the field is not level,” said Matt Bell, executive director of the Casino Association of Indiana.
The first phase of Four Winds Casino South Bend will employ about 1,200 people and have 175,000 square feet of space – making it the largest gambling facility in Indiana. It will feature about 1,800 slot machines and 4,500 parking spaces.
The band operates Four Winds casinos in New Buffalo, Hartford and Dowagiac, Michigan.
Along with the 55,000-square feet of gambling space, the Sound Bend Four Winds will feature a steakhouse, buffet, grill, players' lounge and three bars.
It is expected to open in early 2018.
“We expect to draw from most communities within a two-hour drive, including Fort Wayne and Indianapolis,” said Paige Risser, director of communications for the tribe.
The northern Indiana casinos – specifically Blue Chip in Michigan City – will feel the brunt of the competition.