BIA’s EIS Positive For Pokagons’ Indiana Development

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which operates the Four Winds Casino (l.) in Michigan, received good news from the Bureau of Indian Affairs' environmental impact study for the tribe's proposed $400 million tribal village and casino in South Bend, Indiana. The study's main concern was traffic congestion, which tribe pledged to address. It noted employment and health care would benefit from the project.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs recently released an environmental impact study for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ proposed 0 million, 165-acre development in South Bend, Indiana. The development would include 44 housing units, health services, government offices, a full-service Class II casino, an 18-story, 500-room hotel, meeting space and a parking deck.

The study concluded the projects would “have significant, beneficial impacts on employment,” creating 1,400 temporary jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs, an increase of 2.9 percent over the current number of jobs in the county. The study further stated the development would benefit the tribe by generating revenue to support housing and health care.

The only issue of concern stated in the study is the expected congestion on roads in and around the development. In response, tribal officers stated, “In anticipation of a decision by the BIA on its trust land application, the Pokagon Band is planning to make improvements to those roads in full compliance with the mitigation obligations outlined in the BIA’s Environmental Impact Statement.”

The report found “significant cumulative demand on the capacity for local governments to deal with” compulsive gambling, alcohol addiction, crime or bankruptcy. Other concerns regarding law enforcement and loss of tax revenue already were addressed by the South Bend Common Council. The city agreed to support the project in exchange for a share of future casino revenues plus $5 million in community investment.

Oliver Davis, Sixth District council member and vice president of the South Bend Common Council, said, “This is a location that is right off the bypass and the structure that is going to be put in place is going to be a great opportunity for us. Now people will be able to come right off the bypass from the south or the north and come into the southwestern section of our city. I’m anticipating great stories coming out of South Bend area as we move forward to this development really coming to fruition.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is reviewing the Pokagon’s application for its land to be taken into trust. A decision is expected later this year.

The Pokagons already operates Four Winds casinos in Dowagiac and in New Buffalo, Michigan, where the tribe will open a new outdoor pool, pool bar, hot tub, fireplace and fire pits on July 11. Four Winds Casinos Chief Operating Officer Frank Freedman said the new amenities “are great additions to further enhance the resort experience for our guests that want to spend part of their stay enjoying the warmer weather.”

The new pool–59 feet long and 29 feet wide at its widest point–and hot tub will be open to hotel guests from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The 50-seat outdoor pool bar will be open to all casino guests at 11 a.m. daily. Freedman added in the evenings, the area will convert to a cocktail lounge “offering unique ambiance.”