The opening of the Four Winds Casino South Bend on Tuesday was a moment of joy for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, who would now proudly operate the first tribal casino in the state of Indiana.
But it has made other commercial casinos worried as they feel threatened at the entry of a new competitor. There are 13 commercial casinos which are currently operating in the state; they fear this would impact their revenues adversely.
Pokagon Band, which already runs three resorts in south-western Michigan has opened the first casino for the tribe of Indiana.
The casino is located on 166 acres of tribal trust land in northern Indiana, and it is the first casino in the state of Indiana to be owned and operated by a Native American tribe. Indiana Gaming Commission has stated that out-of-state competition has given a huge blow to the state’s gaming industry and has suffered 3,000 job loss since hitting its peak back in 2009.
Now, the Casino Association of Indiana asserts that the Four Winds could cut profits at existing commercial resorts in the state by 4 percent in the next year, and over the next five years it could be about 9 percent.
State budget planners are preparing for a 12 percent drop in tax revenue from casinos over the next two years.
The existing operators are complaining that Pokagon Band is not competing on a level playing field.
They said that while those private casinos pay about 27 percent in taxes on their gambling profits, the Four Winds Casino will not pay state taxes, as they are also exempted from state regulation for being a tribal casino, and they would only pay 2 percent of its profits to the city of South Bend as part of a local agreement.
As some of the nearby casinos are fretting over the rising competition, a few of them believe they can weather the storm. The Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, owned by Boyd Gaming, says that they would rely on their investment in non-gaming amenities, and it would help them survive the increased competition.
The new Pokagon Band casino is undoubtedly at a large venue, there are few limitations that might affect its impact on the state gaming industry.
While the initial structure plans included a 500-room hotel and a large tribal village, these elements are not visible at the Four Winds South Bend site.
In addition, the casino cannot offer table games or true slot machines as it runs as a Class II gaming facility.
Four Winds South Bend runs across 175,000 square feet and includes 1,800 games, four restaurants, a players' lounge, a coffee shop, three bars, a retail outlet. It includes approximately 4,500 parking spaces and enclosed parking structure. The casino is open 24 hours a day and operates 365 days a year.