The tribe than brought the Four Winds Casino to New Buffalo isn’t done yet.
“To me, the net win was for us to receive two more facilities,” said John Miller, Tribal Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
The Pokagon Band has now set its sights on building downsized gaming facilities in Dowagiac and Hartford.
The tribe has received permission from the State of Michigan to build the so-called satellite facilities. The Pokagon Band still needs the permission of those local communities before it can move forward.
In downtown Dowagiac, there’s a sign indicating that the night life heats up on Thursdays when the stores stay open until 7 p.m.
Perhaps Dowagiac isn’t the type of place that would be an obvious choice for a casino.
“No, I never would have expected anything like that,” said Dowagiac resident Tallie Sievert. “It’s quite a small town, I mean, I don’t know where they would even think about putting it.”
Actually, the proposed site is on tribal land near M-51 and Peavine. It lies along a two lane road some two and a half miles south of the City of Dowagiac.
The tribe already has a police substation there. It might want to add a casino, if the neighbors don’t mind.
“One of the provisions of the compact is we need to have concurrence from the local units of government,” said John Miller. “Our tribe is very open and always willing to sit down with the local units of government and talk to them.”
The conversation would presumably be about the tribe’s 14-month track record with gaming in New Buffalo—where the Four Winds has created some two thousand new jobs.
“We’ve already proven what New Buffalo can do, we've added two thousand jobs,” said Chairman Miller. “There’s been spin off of several thousand more jobs within that region, we've added, there's economic development on several levels.”
The Hartford and Dowagiac facilities would be in line to receive two percent of slot machine revenues under the terms of a revenue sharing agreement included in the new compact.
“There could be a direct revenue share to affect school systems public safety, infrastructure for the local units of government,” said Chairman Miller.
The tribe appears to be at least six months or so away from taking action on a satellite casino.
The Pokagon Band is waiting for the completion of a master planning study that will detail the projected impact the satellite facilities would have on the Four Winds, and vice versa.
The new compact with the state also deals with revenue sharing money the tribe has withheld from local governments around the Four Winds Casino.
Chairman Miller says he’d be “shocked” if the money wasn’t handed over in 45-to 60-days, after the Local Revenue Sharing Board adds two new members.