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Four Winds Casino South Bend unveils new table games

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The tables have turned at the Four Winds Casino in South Bend.

A compact between the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the State of Indiana is now in effect.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb was on the gaming floor to participate in ribbon cutting ceremonies.

The compact means the Four Winds is now a full-fledged class III casino, able to offer table games.

“All these tables behind me are here. 16 table games. A combination of roulette, blackjack, craps, electronic table games,” said Four Winds CEO Frank Freedman. “The tables alone, I believe it’s about 150-additional jobs, plus or minus, just now, because of what we just did here, and more to come.”

A tribe that has been contributing to the local and state economy since the days of fur trading, is only now a bone fide member of the casino community.

“Symbolically, we are now on the same level as every other commercial (casino) in the state. You know, being the only Native American one, we were class two with only poker. Now we are, you know, we’re on a level playing field. We can compete evenly with everybody else,” said Tribal Chairman Matt Wesaw.

The Pokagon Band is the only recognized tribe in the State of Indiana. “And it was, quite frankly, just a joy to sit at that table and to do something that has never been done in the history of the State of Indiana,” said Eric Holcomb, (R) Indiana.

It was called a win-win proposition. The tribe already employs 4,800 people in Indiana and Michigan and is building a 23-story hotel designed to further boost business in South Bend.

“There were many who did not believe we could negotiate a gaming compact with Indiana. I was not one of the non-believers,” Wesaw told a crowd gathered in the Four Winds rotunda.

The milestone marked a fitting finale for outgoing tribal chairman Wesaw who first served on the tribal council in 1995. “What we were doing in 1995, we had no, basically, we had no programs. The programs we had were all just federally funded, not funded at a level that was necessary. Now because of the gaming operations we have, we supplement all of our operations with significantly more money, so health care is much better, we have housing,” Wesaw explained.

Wesaw did not seek re-election. He will retire when his successor, Becky Richards, is sworn in August 14th.

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