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Posted by Four Winds Casinos on Saturday, May 5, 2018

Pokagon Band in early stages of Class III gaming compact talks in Indiana

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is set to make history again by entering into a Class III gaming compact in Indiana.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) has assigned a negotiator to lead compact talks with the tribe, The South Bend Tribune reported. His action followed an August 13 letter from Chairman Matthew Wesaw.

The letter, a copy of which was first posted by The Northwest Indiana Times, noted that the tribe's land in Indiana was placed in trust in November 2016. It marked one of the rare occasions in which an Indian nation has crossed lines to restore its homelands.

The tribe subsequently opened the Four Winds Casino in South Bend in January 2018. It currently offers Class II games like bingo and electronic forms of bingo, Wesaw noted in his letter.

A Class III gaming compact, on the other hand, could lead to slot machines and table games. It might also bring sports betting, which recently became legal in Indiana, to Four Winds.

"At your earliest opportunity, please have your staff contact my office to make arrangements to initiate our discussions," Wesaw wrote.

Holcomb has since named Sara Gonso Tait, the executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, to lead the negotiating committee, The South Bend Tribune reported. The team itself has yet to be named, the paper said.

The news comes as the tribe on Monday scheduled a press conference to "announce the expansion" of Four Winds. Chairman Wesaw and Frank Freedman, the chief operating officer at the casino, are expected to discuss details and unveil renderings of the project.

A hotel could be among the offerings, a spokesperson for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, told the paper. He negotiated a government-to-government agreement with the tribe that has resulted in millions of dollars for the city, a rarity for a Class II operation.

Revenue sharing provisions are more common for Class III gaming facilities. Compacts typically address the rates tribes agree to pay in exchange for some form of exclusivity.

With more than a dozen casinos in operation in Indiana, the state might have a hard time promising the tribe much. But compacts in other states where gaming is prevalent have included revenue sharing provisions.

A hotel was envisioned in the tribe's land-into-trust application for the 166-acre site.

The tribe operates three casinos in 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.

Read More on the Story
Table games, sports betting and expansion coming to South Bend's Four Winds Casino? (The South Bend Tribune September 9, 2019)
South Bend tribal casino seeking to add sports wagering, table games (The Northwest Indiana Times August 28, 2019)
Pokagon donation highlights positive role of tribal gaming in society (SBC Americas August 21, 2019)

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