Wednesday, March 23, 2016

South Bend Reaches Agreement With Indian Tribe On Casino Project

Indiana's only federally-recognized Indian tribe, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, has reached an agreement with South Bend to develop a casino on land it plans to take into trust for the tribe on the city's southwest side to develop a casino. The tribe had no legal obligation to enter into an agreement with South Bend, but the tribe saw it in its interest to reach an agreement with the city that benefited both the tribe and local residents.

According to the South Bend Tribune, the Pokagons have agreed to share 2% of the annual net casino revenues with the city, which will not be less than $1 million if the casino has between 850 and 1,699 games, and not less than $2 million has 1,700 or more games. The Pokagons have also agreed to share $5 million in donations over a 5-year period for a diverse list of projects, including South Bend schools, a newborn intensive care unit at Memorial Children's Hospital and more than $2.2 million to make improvements to Howard Park along the St. Joseph River downtown.

The Pokagons were prepared to build a casino in St. Joseph County two decades ago after the tribe attained its federally-recognized status, but state and local opposition and lobbying by other casino interests blocked the tribe from reaching an agreement to build in Indiana. Michigan officials in 1998 jumped at the opportunity to negotiate a compact with the tribe under which it developed its highly successful Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, which has wreaked havoc on casino revenues of other northeastern Indiana casinos since its opening in 2007.


Anonymous said...

Gary, would a Native American- owned casino be regulated by the State of Indiana, for whatever that's worth, and pay the same gaming license fees and taxes as other casinos? Any idea if this tribe has a real community of people and casino profits would go to those in need?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Yes, The Pokagons have real tribe members. The tribe still has to get final approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Indiana already has Class III gaming so it can't block the tribe from engaging in the same type of gaming on its tribal lands. There is a federal law, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, that provides a mechanism under which a state and Indian tribe can enter into compacts under which there can be revenue sharing agreements. The legislature, which is bought and paid for by the casino industry, passed a law saying the governor couldn't execute such an agreement without its approval. There's a question about the constitutionality of that law, but Pence wimped out and let it take effect rather than signing or vetoing it.

Anonymous said...

South Bend previously annexed the
tract of vacant land where the planned casino will sit.

With casinos already in SW Mich and '
a casino on the water at Michigan
City (AKA the Boat), who will support

LamLawIndy said...

Legal, perhaps, but a good business decision? It's only 37 miles between St. Joe County and New Buffalo, MI. I doubt casino traffic from Chicago will be growing anytime soon, even assuming that those gamers would bypass the Lake County boats. IMHO, a really odd decision.

Anonymous said...

I don't know but fire protection would
seem to be important especially if there's
going to be a 6 to 8 story hotel built as
part of the project (comparable to the
Blue Chip in Mich City). It would seem
that the City of South Bend will need
to build a new fire station nearby
with suitable new equipment including
paramedics and ambulances to handle
coverage. The tribe does have their own
tribal police department.