SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – The Tribal Casino in South Bend could become a full competitor to Indiana’s other casinos later this year if an agreement is reached between state officials and the tribe.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Four Winds South Bend Casino has been restricted to electronic games under federal law since it opened in January 2018. The agreement signed last week would allow the addition of live table games like blackjack and roulette. Slot machines and sports betting.
In return, the Dowagiac, Michigan-based tribe would pay 8% of their slot machine winnings to the state and continue their 2% payments to the city of South Bend. However, that amount will continue to be well below the 25% tax rate paid last year on total profits at the 13 state-licensed casinos in Indiana.
The 20-year contract signed by Governor Eric Holcomb and Pokagon Chairman Matthew Wesaw has yet to be approved by Indiana law before it goes into effect.
The tribe, which has three casinos in southwest Michigan, asked Indiana officials in August 2019 to begin negotiations to expand their gambling options.
“The executed contract comes after many months of negotiation and hard work,” said Sara Gonso Tait, executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission. “The state team has taken great steps to ensure that this contract complies with all state and federal laws and contains provisions that are permitted under federal law.”
Pokagon Band officials declined to comment on their plans for the South Bend Casino until lawmakers did, spokesman David Gutierrez said.
The terms of the agreement would also prevent state officials from allowing new casino competition in most parts of northern and northwest Indiana, including the existing casinos in Hammond, east Chicago, Gary and Michigan City.
The ongoing project for a new $ 300 million on-land casino in Gary could continue, but the other three Lake Michigan casinos would limit themselves to adding new facilities in their locations as permitted by law is.
The agreement would only allow Four Winds Casino to offer casino games of chance, which prohibits the nationwide online sports betting that the state-regulated casinos can offer.
The tribe, numbering nearly 6,000 members, has a similar arrangement with Michigan for its casinos in New Buffalo, Hartford, and Dowagiac.