Indiana Gov. Holcomb Signs Bill Ratifying Pokagon Class III Gaming Compact

Posted on: April 30, 2021, 11:57h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2021, 02:55h.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday signed a bill into law that ratifies a Class III gaming compact between the state and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Indiana tribal gaming compact
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Gary in April. On Thursday, he signed a bill into law that ratifies a Class III gaming compact with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. (Image: Gov. Eric Holcomb/Twitter)

The signing was anticipated as the state negotiated the compact with the Pokagon Band, reaching a deal in January. The General Assembly then needed to ratify it

The Pokagon, which operates a Four Winds Casino in South Bend, first requested negotiations on a compact in August 2019.

The compact now heads to Washington, where the US Interior Department must give its approval before the Pokagon Band can add new games.

The Four Winds in South Bend currently operates as a Class II casino. That allows it to offer electronic bingo slot machines. The only live table games it can provide is poker against other opponents.

With approval to offer Class III gaming, Four Winds will be able to offer such table games as baccarat, blackjack, banked poker games against the house, craps, and roulette.

Under terms of the compact, Four Winds South Bend cannot offer more gaming seats than what is currently offered by the largest commercially licensed casino, which is 3,403 seats.

While Holcomb officially signed it into law, officials plan a public signing ceremony in the near future.

Sports Betting Also Approved

Another Class III game the Pokagon will be able to offer is sports betting.

The Potawatomi have been interested in offering sports betting at its Indiana casino since the state legalized it in 2019. The tribal nations made its request to start Class III negotiations just a couple of weeks before the first sports bets were placed in the state.

South Bend is home to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, one of the country’s most popular college football programs. The casino is located about 15 minutes away from the school.

However, unlike Michigan, where the Potawatomi are allowed to offer mobile sports betting across the state, the Indiana compact says online sports betting is only allowed if the bettor is at the casino when the bet is made.

The state and Potawatomi reached their agreement in January. At that time, a fact sheet stated it would be up to the General Assembly to determine if the tribe could offer sports betting off its sovereign land. It added that issue would be separate from the compact.

Pokagon Band to Give Indiana 8 Percent

As part of the compact, the Pokagon Band will receive a 16-county “exclusivity area,” which means the state will agree to not expand gaming in that territory. The region includes Lake County, which is home to three casinos, and LaPorte, which has one.

In return for that exclusivity, the Pokagon Band will give the state payments totaling 8 percent of the net win at Four Winds South Bend. Should the state breach its commitment to the exclusivity area, the tribe would no longer need to make those payments.

The funding from Four Winds will be used for education, economic and workforce development, tourism promotion, and public health.

The Pokagon Band, provided they make their payments timely to the state, would be able to deduct $1 million from that to pay for postsecondary and vocational education for its citizens and state-run schools.