Pokagon Band includes casino in land-into-trust plan in Indiana

This image shows Alternative A for the land-into-trust site in South Bend, Indiana. No plans have been approved as of yet. Image from Pokagon EIS

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is looking to be the first tribe with a gaming facility in Indiana.

The tribe submitted a land-into-trust application to use about 166 acres in the city of South Bend for a village and casino. Plans call for housing, health clinic, tribal offices and a Class III facility with a hotel, meeting space and a parking garage.

Chairman John P. Warren, however, continues to downplay the gaming aspect of the acquisition. He said the tribe was required to "state all foreseeable development" as part of the process.

"This is an important first step in a lengthy process that began over two years ago and we are very pleased to have reached this significant milestone,” Warren told WNDU of the draft environmental impact statement released by the Bureau of Indian Affairs today.

The tribe is based in Dowagiac, Michigan, but many tribal members live in the South Bend area, less than 25 miles away. The tribe has an office in South Bend.

The Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan. Photo from Facebook

The tribe gained federal recognition through an act of Congress in 1994. In addition to including six counties in Indiana in the tribe's service area, the law requires the BIA to place land in trust for the tribe's reservation -- there appear to be no temporal or geographical limits on the acquisitions.

Generally, land placed in trust after 1988 can't be used for gaming. But an exception in Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act applies to tribes that were restored to federal recognition.

The Pokagons currently operate three casinos in Michigan. To open one in Indiana, the tribe would need to negotiate a Class III gaming compact.

Riverboat casinos, land casinos and racinos are legal in Indiana so the tribe would be entitled to the same types of gaming under IGRA.

The BIA will hold a public meeting on the draft EIS but the date wasn't included in the notice published in today's issue of the Federal Register.

Get the Story:
Plans for Pokagon tribal village in South Bend receive federal response (WNDU 3/12)
Plans for South Bend Casino move forward (The South Bend Tribune 3/12)

Federal Register Notices:
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)

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BIA urged to deny Pokagon Band casino application in Indiana (10/11)

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