The Four Winds Casino in South Bend is now operating with a Class III license, which allows the gaming facility to offer Las Vegas-style games such as blackjack, roulette, and slot machines. This morning, Governor Eric Holcomb joined officials from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, which owns and operates the casino, and the Indiana Gaming Commission to mark the occasion. Since its opening in January 2018, Four Winds was operating with a Class II license, which limited its gaming options.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Matthew Wesaw, tribal council chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians said the enhanced gaming will allow it to compete.
“If you look at the tables that we opened today, they were almost all full, they were almost all open,” said Wesaw. “We will now compete evenly with all of the other casinos. So that’s important.”
Four Winds is Indiana’s only tribal casino, so it operates with different rules compared to other casinos. The Michigan-based Pokagon Band sent a request for a Class III license in 2019. The Indiana General Assembly had to approve a compact with the Pokagon. Governor Holcomb ratified the deal in May, but it still needed approval from the U.S. Department of Interior. The federal government approved the compact in early July.
While Four Winds gets a full lineup of casino games, Indiana gets extra tax money.
“It will be revenue to the state of Indiana. Up until now, we didn’t share revenue. In a Class II operation, you don’t have to share with the state. But with Class III, Indiana will get 8% of revenue generated by the machines,” said Wesaw.
In addition to more lucrative games, Four Winds is also hoping to add a retail sportsbook. Wesaw says that will involve further discussions with the Indiana legislature.
Meanwhile, construction on the 23-story hotel adjacent to the casino continues. That project includes the addition of 40,000-square feet of gaming floor.
Wesaw says steel framing has been laid on 15 levels. He says the pandemic delayed construction, but they hope to open in the fall off 2022.