Pokagon Band presents $860K in checks for city services, community development

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:39 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:46 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi held a check presentation ceremony Thursday morning at its Four Winds Casino in South Bend.

It’s all part of their community engagement plan to provide funds for local nonprofits and city development projects.

“We’re celebrating a partnership between the City of South Bend and Pokagon Band and celebrating their generosity,” South Bend Mayor James Mueller (D) said. “These are contributions they’re making to community organizations, including the City of South Bend, that they don’t have to make but chose to make because this is their home, just as much as it’s ours, and they’re committed to our community.”

When Four Winds South Bend opened five years ago, Pokagon Band leaders voluntarily agreed to make annual payments to South Bend. In place of property taxes, the Pokagon Band decided to provide funding for city services and community development.

On Thursday, they presented checks to numerous organizations in the city for $860,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs, the YWCA, and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.

Mayor Mueller told 16 News Now that these contributions made the restoration of Howard Park possible.

“Over the course of five years, they’ve contributed over $2 million to the Howard Park renovation,” Mayor Mueller explained. “they were one of the early donors, so they really helped kickstart the interest and how can we make Howard Park something special.” So, we’re very grateful to the Pokagon Band for their generosity and for helping make that possible.”

Over the last five years, they’ve donated $4.3 million to local nonprofits.

“It’s amazing to see the revitalization of the area, the park, and what it brings to the community; to be able to hold events there and all the uses that it has for the community,” Richards added. “So, it’s been great to be a part of that.

Four Winds Casinos currently employ over 2,700 people, and the hotel expansion at the South Bend location will add 400 more.

“It benefits the greater community and shows our commitment to being a good neighbor, a part of the community,” Tribal Council Chairwoman for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Rebecca Richards said. “We’ve always been here and to show that we want to benefit everyone. Our citizens live here as well, so it benefits them as well as everyone else in the community. And it’s just the right thing to do to be in the community and to share in what we are able to from our fortunes here.”

The funds for the annual payments are derived from Four Winds South Bend Casino’s Class II gaming devices.

According to The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act regarding Class II gaming devices, “the game commonly known as bingo (whether or not electronic, computer or other technological aids are used in connection therewith) and, if played in the same location as the bingo, pull tabs, punch board, tip jars, instant bingo, and other games similar to bingo.”

Class III devices are the typical machines you would find in Las Vegas, considered RNG, or random number generators, making the chance of winning completely random., unlike Class II.

Table games like roulette, blackjack and craps are all also considered Class III gaming.

Organizations receiving a portion of the revenue share are:

  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County received $20,000
  • The YWCA of North Central Indiana received $25,000
  • The Food Bank of Northern Indiana received $20,000
  • Jobs for America’s Graduates Indiana received $50,000
  • Beacon Health Foundation received $100,000
  • The Bowman Creek Project received $100,000
  • The South Bend Community School Corporation received $100,000
  • South Bend Venues, Parks & Arts received $445,000 for the renovation of Howard Park.