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Gov. Holcomb signs Indiana’s first-ever tribal gaming compact

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 6:20 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - There’s a first time for everything and today’s ‘thing’ was big enough to bring Indiana’s governor to South Bend.

Governor Eric Holcomb came to town to sign the state’s first ever Indian gaming compact with the state’ first and only federally recognized tribe—the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

The compact was approved by state lawmakers last month.

The agreement calls for the tribe to pay eight percent of its net slot take to the State of Indiana to be used for specific purposes. “The government to government, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the State of Indiana’s government coming together and working on workforce development programs, working on education programs,” Governor Holcomb told reporters after today’s signing ceremony.

The tribe is ready to tackle issues well beyond gaming. “We’ve got a lot of DNR issues, there’s health care issues, there’s more education issues, could be some tax issues, we’ve got some law enforcement issues, I mean, the list is long,” said Chairman Wesaw.

At the South Bend Four Winds property, work has resumed on a 23 story, 317 room hotel.

The compact will allow the casino to offer a better gaming experience there in the future through class III table staples like craps, roulette, and blackjack, as well as full fledged slot machines. “To a guy like me who is not a gambler, I don’t see a difference, but to the sophisticated slot player, they can tell. They can tell a difference because class II has, still got a bingo kind of set up where you’re playing against other operations across the country, class III, you’re not doing that,” said Chairman Wesaw.

The tribe won’t have to replace all 1,800 of its current slot machines to make the switch from class II to class III: That can apparently be done through software.

The compact has an initial term of 20 years, followed by renewal options in 10-year increments. “What I mentioned is that certainty, and stability, and predictability, and continuity that is going to set a sail for decades to come,” Holcomb said. “This is our home, ours together. To have that compact in hand, just makes it official and now the sky’s the limit.”

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