The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians' Four Winds Casino in South Bend, Indiana, opened Thursday an additional 40,000 square feet of gaming space, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. This expansion is part of a broader project that also includes the construction of a 23-story hotel and event center, and allows for the addition of 11 gaming tables, such as craps and blackjack, and 850 slot machines.
The new floor also features a high-limit room where players can place bets up to $100 per pull; and also has more than 50 seats for video poker. While the games are expected to bolster the casino's revenues, 10% of the slot machine revenue is set to make its way back to the wider community, as per the expanded compact signed last year.
As reported by Inside Indiana Business, Rebecca Richards, tribal council chairwoman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, said the resort complex brings “new opportunities,” along with an amenity and an entertainment experience that South Bend and Northwest Indiana didn't have before.
“It means not only prosperity for tribal citizens, but just that opportunity for the local area to experience restaurants, entertainment, meeting space, convention space, and the amenities of a spa and hotel, as well as gaming," Richards noted.
She also added that when the resort is complete, it will offer amenities that are not offered in St. Joseph County either. Richards also pointed out that the Band has built and planned its properties so that they can later be expanded.
Four Winds Casino South Bend's new tower under construction.
Four Winds is Indiana’s only tribal casino, and features Las Vegas-style gaming tables. The property first opened its doors in January 2018, while the expansion was announced the following year. For its opening, the Indiana General Assembly had to approve a compact with the Band, which was later ratified by Governor Holcomb in May 2021. The federal government approved it in early July 2021.
The Band opened its first casino in August 2007 in New Buffalo, Michigan. It also operates two satellite casinos in southwest Michigan.
Frank Freedman, Chief Operating Officer for Four Winds Casinos, also stated: “During our 15-year-history, we’ve continually strived to not only offer something distinctively unique, but also raise the bar for gaming in the Midwest by way of our amenities, dining options, entertainment and excellent service provided by our warm and welcoming staff."
“We are very excited for guests to experience our new slots and table games, and look forward to showing more of what Four Winds South Bend has to offer in the coming months," he further noted.
The hotel project is set to continue and is expected to open in early 2023, according to Richards. Once finalized, it will be one of the tallest structures in St. Joseph County, with more than 300 guest rooms.
Rendering of the finalized project
The project timeline had to be adjusted in response to construction delays caused by the pandemic. The two-year plan extended into three but, according to Richards, it was worth it as it “gave us time to analyze where we were with the project, making sure that we had any necessary changes that were needed, and those supply issues," as reported by the cited source.
With the expansion of the South Bend venue, the Pokagon Band says it has created 350 construction jobs with 10% being Native American preference. The project will create an additional 350 to 400 new jobs at the casino resort once construction is complete. The Potawatomi have opened a career center in South Bend to help fill those positions.