Leaders of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians welcome visitors to the Four Winds Casino in South Bend, Indiana, on January 15, 2018. Photo: Four Winds Casinos

Pokagon Band announces poker room after favorable opinion from federal regulators

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians will open a poker room at its casino in Indiana after securing a favorable legal opinion from the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Normally, card games like poker can only be offered in conjunction with a Class III gaming compact. The tribe lacks such an agreement with the state of Indiana.

But in a January 23 opinion, the NIGC's top attorney said an electronic variation of the game, known as Gamblit Poker LIVE!, falls into the Class II category. And since poker is already legal in Indiana, it can be offered at the Four Winds Casino in South Bend.

“Guests have absolutely been asking for poker since we first announced our opening,” said Frank Freedman, chief operating officer of Four Winds Casinos, WNDU reported. “Now that we’re established, we are eager to begin construction on what will be a really exciting, well-rounded poker room. For fans of the game, it will offer something for everyone.”

According to news reports, construction on the 10-table poker room will begin next week. It's due to open in time for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

It's time to check out this hot new game! Up to six players compete to make the best three-card hand of poker, but the...

Posted by FireKeepers Casino on Monday, January 15, 2018
The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi is offering Gamblit Poker LIVE! at its FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The South Bend casino debuted earlier this year on a 166-acre site that was placed in trust during the Obama administration. The decision was the first of its kind in Indiana.

The tribe operates three casinos in neighboring Michigan under the Four Winds name. The flagship facility is located in New Buffalo, just a few miles from the Indiana border and about 32 miles from the South Bend site.

The tribe has a Class III gaming compact with the state of Michigan. But Gamblit Poker LIVE! could be offered there without one, according to the NIGC's opinion.

Another tribe is in fact taking advantage of the situation. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi began offering the game at its FireKeepers Casino in Michigan in January, according to a post on Facebook, after the legal opinion was first issued earlier in the month.

The NIGC subsequently revised the opinion on January 23 after the Pokagon Band asked whether Gamblit Poker LIVE! could be offered in Indiana in addition to Michigan.

Read More on the Story:
Four Winds South Bend to open poker room (WNDU July 10, 2018)
Four Winds to add live poker room at South Bend casino (The South Bend Tribune July 10, 2018)
Poker room announced at Four Winds South Bend (ABC57 July 10, 2018)
Four Winds Casino building live poker room in South Bend (95.3 MNC July 10, 2018)

Game Classification Opinion:
Gamblit Poker LIVE: Class II (January 23, 2018)

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