Last casino free weekend in New Buffalo

In New Buffalo, Michigan, this will be the last weekend “B.C.”

In this case, that stands for “before casino.”

The Four Winds Casino is set to open for business on August 2nd. Some wonder if the town itself will ever be the same.

While New Buffalo has seen plenty of growth in the recent past, it has never seen a project the size of the casino come to town.

“A lot of people think it’s not good,” said Nick Huffer, a city resident. “I think it’s good, I’m for it.”

Huffer says he never thought of New Buffalo as a small town, because “in the summers it’s not really that small, it grows in population, by double probably.”

It’s true, New Buffalo isn’t as small as it used to be, thanks in large part to a recent housing boom. But with a year round casino up and running next week, it’s likely that the town will never again be as small as it is today.

“I like it here,” said Carol Draper, who has lived in New Buffalo since childhood. “As far as that goes, if it got too crowded for me I’d just look for another small town.”

When Gary Reinmuth bought a home in New Buffalo about a year ago, he swears he didn’t know a casino was in the cards. He says he found out three days after making the purchase.

“I'm most concerned about the traffic going by my house,” Reinmuth said. “Right now there’s training going on they’re still hiring employees apparently. It’s been bad at times and not so bad at times.”

The Four Winds is expected to draw up to 12-thousand visitors a day. That compares to New Buffalo’s last recorded population of 2,200.

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